Bolanitos mine production significantly outpaced the plant capacity in Q1, 2013 by 260 tonnes per day. The additional ore was processed into concentrates at the leased Las Torres plant near El Cubo and the extra concentrates were sold thanks to the signing of two new concentrate sales contracts.
Silver production at the El Cubo mine was 270,446 oz, an increase of 36% compared to 198,145 oz in Q4, 2012 and gold production was 4,199 oz, and increase of 33% compared to 3,169 oz in Q4 2012. In the First Quarter of 2013, metal production was up due to improved throughput, grades and recoveries resulting from the operational initiatives put in place in 2012. The Company continues to focus on ensuring that safe, sustainable mining methods will become part of the culture which over time leads to improved operating efficiencies.
Management anticipates metal production may dip for both El Cubo and Bolanitos ores in the 2nd quarter as some downtime is expected at the El Cubo plant during the four week re-commissioning period. However, as we announced last week, the El Cubo plant re-commissioning is now under way ahead of schedule and most of the plant capital investments at El Cubo for 2013 have been completed.
In January 2013, Endeavour commenced an aggressive $16.3 million, surface exploration drill program to test multiple exploration targets at its three mining districts and five district scale exploration properties. A total of 78,500 metres of surface drilling was planned to test approximately 24 exploration targets.
Subsequent to period end, the sharp drop in precious metal prices prompted management to reduce the size of the 2013 exploration program. The amended 2013 program will result in 42,000 planned metres drilled for an estimated $12.1 million.
At Bolanitos, the Company continued the second phase of drilling at the nearby Belen property, drilled the Plateros and Asuncion veins in the La Luz area north-west of the Lucero mine intersecting economic grades over mineable widths, and continued surface mapping and sampling at the Lourdes property.
At Guanacevi, one drill rig continued testing the Milache property five km northwest of the plant to more fully delineate the high grade, silver-gold mineralized zone discovered on the Santa Cruz vein last year. It is now 300 metres long by 250 metres deep, still open for expansion north and at depth.
At El Cubo, Endeavour identified 28 separate target areas in and around the existing mines last year with near-term potential to delineate new reserves and resources. Since acquiring the property, the Company has undertaken mapping, sampling, permitting and drilling to start testing the high priority targets. To date, drilling has not intersected any material new mineralization in and around the old mines but has received encouraging results from some targets south of the mines.
At the San Sebastian property, Endeavour outlined a significant maiden silver-gold resource last year and is continuing to focus on expanding the resource this year so that the deposit is large enough to commence pre-feasibility and permitting work in 2014.
At the Panuco property, drilling has intersected geologically interesting but not yet economic results. Panuco is sandwiched between the La Preciosa property of Orko/Coeur and the San Lucas property of Oremex in Durango state. The Panuco and Laberinto properties have exploration potential for both bulk tonnage, open pit and high grade underground silver-gold deposits.
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