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Hecla ups Q4'19 gold, silver output YOY, inks labor deal at Lucky Friday mine

Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co. booked a yearly increase in fourth-quarter 2019 silver and gold production and announced the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement at its Lucky Friday silver mine.

The company reported a 25% rise in silver production to 3.4 million ounces and a 5% growth in gold production to 74,773 ounces based on preliminary figures released Jan. 7.

Full-year 2019 silver production climbed 22% to 12.6 million ounces, and gold output improved 4% to a record 272,873 ounces. Silver equivalent output reached 47.2 Moz, and gold equivalent production totaled 549,172 ounces.

Hecla credited its strong cash flows in 2019 to record full-year silver production at its Greens Creek silver mine in Alaska and record total gold output for the year.

The company noted that its annual cash and cash equivalents reached about US$62 million as of Dec. 31, 2019, while its net debt was down 23% from June 30, 2018, to US$136 million.

Meanwhile, Hecla said it expects most of the workforce at Lucky Friday to return after the union ratified a new labor agreement and reversed the result of a vote in December 2019 rejecting the company's offer.

Ramp-up to full production is scheduled for late 2020. Operations at Lucky Friday have been crippled by a strike that began in March 2017. The company had planned to replace the striking workers before the union decided to ratify the deal.