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 the first three quarters of 2017 totalled 1,697,124 ounces of silver and 35,206 ounces of gold.
The Probable Mineral Reserves as of December 2016 were 4.5 Mt at 77.0 g/t silver and 1.2 g/t gold for contained ounces of 22.2 Mozs of silver equivalent and the Indicated Mineral Resource is 4.5 Mt at 89.0 g/t silver and 1.4 g/t gold for 26.1 Mozs of silver equivalent (145.0 g/t AgEq cut-off).
During the first three quarters of 2017, Santa Elena produced 35,206 ounces of gold and 1,699,393 ounces of silver. The operation´s all-in-sustaining cost during the first nine months of 2017 was $5.29 per silver equivalent ounce.
There were three drill rigs on site at Santa Elena, completing 7,406 metres of drilling in the third quarter. The drilling activities were focused on the Santa Elena Main vein to the west of the deposit and under the depleted open pit.
In the second quarter of 2017, First Majestic completed the connection of the San Salvador ramp to the Main Vein. The new ramp is expected to improve underground productivity by reducing trucking bottlenecks and will support future exploration activities around the Tortuga and Alejandra veins.