Silver Wheaton Corp. ("Silver Wheaton" or the "Company") (TSX:SLW)(NYSE:SLW) is pleased to announce end-of-year 2011 attributable proven and probable reserves of 798 million ounces of silver and 0.22 million ounces of gold, attributable measured and indicated resources of 452 million ounces of silver and 0.38 million ounces of gold, and attributable inferred resources of 355 million ounces of silver and 0.07 million ounces of gold.
During 2011, attributable proven and probable reserves decreased by 144 million ounces of silver and 0.03 million ounces of gold, attributable measured and indicated resources increased by 86 million ounces of silver and 0.14 million ounces of gold, and attributable inferred resources decreased by 139 million ounces of silver and increased by 0.02 million ounces of gold.
Silver Wheaton's decrease in 2011 attributable reserves was due in part to depletion from record production over the year, as well as a reduction in silver reserves at Goldcorp Inc.'s ("Goldcorp") Penasquito mine and Primero Mining Corp.'s ("Primero") San Dimas mine.
As per Goldcorp's February 15, 2012, disclosure, the reduction in silver reserves at Penasquito occurred as a result of increased cut-off grades due to higher operating costs than those estimated in the original 2006 feasibility study. In 2012, exploration at Penasquito will target additional high-grade mineralization in mantos beneath the open pit bottoms, in addition to testing the potential for block cave mining of deep mineralized zones.
As per Primero's March 28, 2012, disclosure, in an effort to improve mine planning and expand long-term production levels at its San Dimas mine, Primero elected to utilize block modeling to estimate its mineral reserves and resources rather than the polygonal method, which it had used historically. The estimates made using this new approach resulted in a reduction in both silver reserves and inferred resources at the San Dimas mine, as of December 31, 2011. The updated mineral reserve and resource estimates for San Dimas have been prepared by AMC Mining Consultants (Canada) Ltd. and a 43-101 technical report is expected to be filed on SEDAR within 45 days.
Primero's disclosure also states that there is significant exploration potential at San Dimas beyond the stated mineral reserves and resources, some of which has been reported as mineral potential. Further details can be found in their March 28, 2012, disclosure. Primero believes that the new estimation approach will improve mine planning, and that further drilling and mine development will result in mineral resources being converted to mineral reserves, a reasonable amount of the exploration potential being converted to inferred resources, and new mineral discoveries being realized.
"Silver Wheaton continues to have nearly twice the silver reserves of any other silver company in the world," said Randy Smallwood, Silver Wheaton's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are in a period where commodity price gains are often largely offset by industry wide operating cost pressures, which can result in reserve reductions. In an inflationary environment such as this, the strength of our 'fixed operating cost' business model, which continues to generate amongst the highest cash operating margins in the precious metals industry, is apparent. Our core assets are mainly comprised of long-life and lower-cost mines, with proven records of reserve replacement and resource conversion, and we are confident that ongoing exploration programs will continue this trend well into the future."
"San Dimas has produced in excess of 580 million ounces of silver in its greater than 100 years of operation and aggressive exploration, particularly in the Sinaloa Graben region, continues to yield excellent results. We are confident that San Dimas will deliver solid production results, and that Primero's efforts to improve mine planning will ultimately add value to this impressive asset, including the potential for significantly expanded long-term production levels."
Source: Silver Wheaton Corp.