BUENOS AIRES (miningweekly.com) - Vancouver-based Silver Standard Resources is targeting commercial production in the fourth quarter at the company's Pirquitas mine, CEO Robert Quartermain told Mining Weekly Online.
Pirquitas is the largest silver mine in Argentina, and started production earlier this year.
"We have met the major milestones for the development of Pirquitas, and our priority is to achieve commercial production in the fourth quarter," Quartermain said.
The silver circuit has been fully commissioned and Silver Standard made its first 100-t shipment of silver concentrate in July.
"Production ramp-up will continue over the next few months, with a focus on the optimisation of the silver circuit to maximize silver recover and concentrate grade.
"The tin circuit will be commissioned during this period as well," Quartermain said.
Pirquitas is expected to produce three-million ounces of silver in 2009.
It will average production of approximately 10-million ounces of silver and 2 500 t of tin per year over an estimated 14,5-year mine life, based on current reserves.
The plant will process 6 000 t/d of ore.
During the construction phase of the $233-million mine, the project provided employment to over 90% of the local people available to work and this level of employment will be maintained as the mine transitions into steady state operations.
"We are also working with community leaders on projects ranging from road infrastructure to heating installation for the local schools, as well as small business development initiatives," Quartermain added.
Once known as the site of the largest historical production of tin and silver in Argentina, Piriquitas is Silver Standard's first producing mine.
At full production, the operation will be one of the largest primary silver mines in the world.
The company is also advancing several other development projects, and is nearing completion on a feasibility study for its San Luis project, in Peru, Quartermain said.
"And at Pitarrilla, in Mexico, where we recently announced the addition of silver reserves, we are working on scoping studies and metallurgical testwork to evaluate the economic potential of the large, five-zone project."
"At Snowfield, in Canada, we are just completing a 20 000m-plus drilling program to upgrade a significant portion of the project's inferred gold resources and to add additional gold resources."