SSR Mining Inc. reported fourth quarter and year-end 2018 operating results. Related to Puna Operations (a 75%/25% with Golden Arrow, located in Jujuy province), it exceeded the upper end of the revised annual silver production guidance with a total of 3.7 million ounces. With the declaration of commercial production at the Chinchillas mine in December 2018, SSR Mining produced 1.2 million ounces of silver in the fourth quarter, a 79% increase over the third quarter, as the mill averaged nearly 3,800 tonnes per day.
In 2018, Puna Operations produced a total of 3.7 Moz of silver, 8.8 million pounds of zinc and 3.1 million pounds of lead. The quantity of silver ounces sold for 2018 totaled 3.8 Moz. On an attributable basis of 75%, silver production and sales in 2018 totaled 2.8 Moz and 2.8 Moz, respectively. During the year, the ore was ground at an average of 3,890 tons per day. The ground ore contained an average silver grade of 114 g/t. The average metallurgical recovery of silver was 72.1%, an increase of 3% compared to 2017.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, silver production was 1.2 Moz, an increase of 79% in relation to the third quarter, mainly due to the increase in the tonnage of ground ore of higher grade of Chinchillas.
During the fourth quarter, the ore was ground at an average of 3,720 tons per day. In December, the ore was obtained exclusively from Chinchillas and reached a milling rate of 3,605 tons per day. The ore processed in the fourth quarter contained an average silver grade of 133 g/t, an increase of 38% compared to the third quarter of 2018, due to the processing of high quality ore from Chinchillas in December. The average silver recovery in the fourth quarter was 81.5%.
In Puna Operations, with the commercial start of Chinchillas in the open sky already reached, the year 2019 marks the first full period of mineral production at the Chinchillas mine, transported for processing at the Pirquitas mine plant. Puna Operations is expected to produce between 6 Moz and 7 Moz of silver. Capital investments in Puna Operations of US$12 million include US$5 million for the maintenance of the mine equipment and US$ 5million for the maintenance of the plant equipment.