The Santa Elena Mine is located in northern Mexico approximately 150 km northeast of Hermosillo in Sonora State. The mineralization at Santa Elena is classified as a low sulphidation epithermal system and mining and exploration has been focused on a single wide vein. The mine began operating in 2011 as an open pit, heap leach operation and transitioned to an underground mine and mill in early 2014. First Majestic is currently mining from three stopes, targeting underground production of 1,750 tpd.
Ore is processed into gold-silver doré bars through a Merrill-Crowe processing facility with capacity of 3,000 tpd and recoveries have averaged 90% during 2017. Excess capacity at the mill is being used to reprocess ore from the heap leach pads. Production during 2017 totaled 2,282,182 ounces of silver and 49,211 ounces of gold.
The Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves as of December 2017 were 5.2 Mt at 84.0 g/t silver and 1.3 g/t gold for contained ounces of 30.7 Mozs of silver equivalent (130-135 g/t AgEq cut-off ). Santa Elena has Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources of 4.6 Mt at 106.0 g/t silver and 1.6 g/t gold for 34.4 Mozs of silver equivalent (120-125 g/t AgEq cut-off for underground ore and 75 g/t AgEq cut-off for leach pad ore).
During the first half of 2018, Santa Elena produced 23,927 ounces of gold and 1,056,799 ounces of silver. The operation’s all-in-sustaining cost during the first six months of 2018 was $3.25 per silver equivalent ounce.
There were four drill rigs on site at Santa Elena, completing 10,717 metres of drilling in the second quarter. The drilling activities were focused on exploring extensions of the main Santa Elena vein, particularly continuation to the west and at depth to the east.