Hecla Reports Third Quarter 2012 Results and Expected 2013 Production from Lucky Friday Mine

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Hecla Reports Third Quarter 2012 Results and Expected 2013 Production from Lucky Friday Mine

For the Period Ended September 30, 2012

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) today announced a third quarter net loss applicable to common shareholders of $1.0 million, or $0.00 per basic share, and earnings after adjustments applicable to common shareholders of $3.2 million, or $0.01 per basic share. Third quarter silver production was up 19% from the previous quarter to 1.6 million ounces at a cash cost of $3.52 per ounce, net of by-products. Operating cash flow for the quarter was $35.2 million.


THIRD QUARTER 2012 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Silver production of 1.6 million ounces, up 19% from the previous quarter, at a total cash cost (a non-GAAP measure) of $3.52 per ounce, net of by-products.
  • Operating cash flow of $35.2 million.
  • Net loss applicable to common shareholders of $1.0 million, or $0.00 per basic share, due primarily to non-cash mark-to-market adjustments related to the Company's long-term base metal hedging program.
  • Earnings after adjustments applicable to common shareholders (a non-GAAP measure) of $3.2 million, or $0.01 per basic share.
  • Lucky Friday rehabilitation work progresses to approximately 5700 level with production expected to resume in Q1/2013. Full-year 2013 silver production expected at more than 2 million ounces.
  • Cash and cash equivalents of $232 million at September 30, 2012.
  • Declaration of common stock dividend of $0.0225 per share, payable on or about December 5 to shareholders of record on November 27.
  • Drilled very high-grade mineralization over exceptional widths at Greens Creek (Alaska).
  • At San Sebastian, drilling of the Middle Vein has defined a very high-grade, gold-silver vein which is approximately 800 feet from the Hugh Zone.

"We are pleased to report that shaft rehabilitation at the Lucky Friday mine advanced on schedule during the third quarter, and we anticipate being in production in the first quarter of 2013 and ramping up through the year to more than 2 million ounces by year end," said Hecla's President and Chief Executive Officer Phillips S. Baker, Jr. "Work crews have completed the Silver Shaft rehabilitation work to approximately the 5700 level, which is 400 feet from the shaft bottom. Therefore, we have recalled all employees and begun preparatory work for sinking of the #4 Shaft."

"Greens Creek delivered 19% higher silver production than the previous quarter, as a result of increases in ore throughput and silver grade. Cash costs increased to $3.52 per ounce due to higher silver grades relative to the by-product metals resulting in lower by-product credit per ounce of silver produced. Meanwhile, our record capital investment program continued at Greens Creek, preparing the mine for many more years of anticipated low-cost production and reserve growth," Mr. Baker said.

"Quarterly operating cash flow was $35.2 million, helped by higher production at Greens Creek and strong silver prices. With our realized silver prices averaging $35.00 per ounce, Hecla will pay the silver-linked dividend in addition to our regular common stock dividend.

"Meanwhile, our expanded pre-development and exploration programs continued to deliver impressive results, including ramp development at the historic Bulldog mine in Colorado, and very high-grade intercepts at all four properties. We are rapidly advancing toward our targeted goal of 15 million ounces of Company-wide silver production by 2017. Underpinning this growth is our very strong balance sheet, with $232 million in cash and no significant debt," Mr. Baker added.

FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

Net loss applicable to common shareholders for the third quarter was $1.0 million, or $0.00 per basic share, compared to net income of $55.8 million, or $0.20 per basic share for the same period a year ago, and was impacted by the following items:

  • Temporary suspension of mining activities at the Lucky Friday mine, where production has been suspended since January 2012, but which is expected to resume production in the first quarter of 2013. There were $6.1 million in suspension-related costs at the Lucky Friday in the third quarter, including $1.5 million of depreciation.
  • Lower average silver and base metals prices compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Exploration and pre-development expense increased to $17.1 million in the third quarter from $11.6 million in the same period in 2011.
  • A $9.1 million non-cash loss for mark-to-market adjustments on base metal derivative contracts for the third quarter, compared to a $40.4 million gain for the same period in 2011. A summary of the quantities of base metals committed under financially settled forward contracts on September 30, 2012, is included on page 4 of this release.
  • A $14,000 tax provision, compared to $27.3 million in the same period in 2011, was the result of higher pre-tax income in 2011. The effective income tax rate is approximately 36% in 2012 compared to 35% in the same period in 2011.
  • Gains of $5.9 million on provisional price adjustments compared to losses of $3.6 million in the same period of 2011.

 Third Quarter Ended Nine Months Ended
HIGHLIGHTS September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011 September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011
FINANCIAL DATA        
Sales (000)$81,871 $120,543 $240,043 $374,767
Gross profit (000)$37,309$67,805$109,479$215,169
Income (loss) applicable to common shareholders (000)$(1,023)$55,783$13,797$132,181
Basic income per common share$0.00$0.20$0.05$0.47
Diluted income per common share$0.00$0.19$0.05$0.45
Net income (loss) (000)$(885)$55,921$14,211$132,595
Cash provided by operating activities (000)$35,248$60,721$66,488$187,938

Operating cash flow was $35.2 million during the third quarter of 2012.

Capital expenditures (including non-cash capital lease additions) at the operations totaled $14.5 million at Lucky Friday and $14.2 million at Greens Creek. Full-year capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $135.0 million in 2012, primarily due to projects at Greens Creek.

Pre-development expenditures totaled $5.4 million in the third quarter. Pre-development expenditures for the full year 2012 are expected to be approximately $23.0 million.

Exploration expenditures for the third quarter of 2012 were $11.7 million. Exploration expenditures for the full-year 2012 are expected to be approximately $30.0 million.

METALS PRICES

Average realized silver prices in the third quarter were $35.00 per ounce, compared with average realized prices in the third quarter of 2011 of $37.02 per ounce.

 Third Quarter Ended Nine Months Ended
   September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011 September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011
AVERAGE METAL PRICES        
Silver -London PM Fix ($/oz)$29.91 $38.79$30.65 $36.21
Realized price per ounce$35.00$37.02$33.27$36.45
Gold -London PM Fix ($/oz)$1,655$1,700$1,652$1,530
Realized price per ounce$1,754$1,799$1,700$1,578
Lead -LME Cash ($/pound)$0.90$1.12$0.91$1.15
Realized price per pound$0.94$1.01$0.94$1.11
Zinc -LME Cash ($/pound)$0.86$1.01$0.88$1.04
Realized price per pound$0.90$1.04$0.90$1.05

Base Metals Forward Sales Contracts

The following table summarizes the quantities of base metals committed under financially settled forward sales contracts at September 30, 2012:

 Metric Tonnes Under Contract Average Price per Pound
Zinc  LeadZinc  Lead
Contracts on provisional sales    
2012 settlements8,5253,400$0.88$0.96
2013 settlements2,200$0.97N/A
Contracts on forecasted sales
2012 settlements600

N/A

$1.12
2013 settlements10,25016,850$1.06$1.12

OPERATIONS OVERVIEW

Average third quarter silver cash cost was $3.52 per ounce, net of by-products, compared to $0.67 per ounce in the same period in 2011. The following table provides the production summary on a consolidated basis for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2012 and 2011:

 Third Quarter Ended Nine Months Ended
   September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011 September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011
PRODUCTION SUMMARY        
Silver -Ounces produced1,619,110 2,287,2624,312,907 6,992,453
Payable ounces sold1,331,1391,954,1203,892,0906,196,269
Gold -Ounces produced14,02414,21739,93343,073
Payable ounces sold10,19310,55832,30533,892
Lead -Tons produced5,49911,22615,22630,956
Payable tons sold3,9909,21811,78826,004
Zinc -Tons produced16,64919,31648,66555,970
Payable tons sold12,34211,80438,31237,987
Total cash cost per ounce of silver produced (1)$3.52$0.67$2.34$0.75

(1) See the attached schedule for a reconciliation to GAAP.

Greens Creek mine - Alaska

Silver production at Greens Creek was 1.6 million ounces in the third quarter of 2012, compared to 1.4 million ounces in the same period in 2011. Third quarter silver cash cost was $3.52 per ounce, net of by-products, compared to a negative $2.98 per ounce in the same period in 2011, due in part to lower average base metals prices. Mining costs per ton were up by 23% and milling costs were 19% lower in the third quarter, as compared to the same period in 2011. The higher mining costs were primarily due to the increased use of contract miners, and the lower milling costs resulted from higher mill throughput and the availability of more hydroelectric power.

During the first nine months of 2012, production totaled 4.3 million ounces of silver at an average cash cost of $2.34 per ounce, net of by-products.

Greens Creek is expected to produce more than 6 million ounces of silver in 2012.

Lucky Friday mine - Idaho

At the Lucky Friday mine, the Silver Shaft rehabilitation is complete to approximately the 5700 level. Concurrent with the rehabilitation, the shaft is being upgraded for potential future capacity increases. Complete rehabilitation to the bottom of the shaft is expected by the end of year with production expected to resume in the first quarter of 2013. Also, at the 5900 level, a bypass is being developed around an area impacted by a rock burst in December 2011.

We have recalled all employees necessary to reach full production. All recalled employees have received safety training, including new techniques in risk assessment and accident prevention designed to improve safe work practices.

In addition, we have begun preparations to resume work in the first quarter on the #4 Shaft project. To date, $90 million has been invested on the estimated $200 million #4 Shaft project, which is planned to access extensions to reserves, resources and additional exploration targets. The project is expected to be completed in early 2016.

Care-and-maintenance costs incurred at the Lucky Friday totaled $6.1 million for the third quarter of 2012, including depreciation of $1.5 million.

Pre-Development

Pre-development expenditures for the third quarter of 2012 were $5.4 million at the Company's three pre-development projects in Colorado, Idaho and Mexico.

At the San Juan Silver project, the new 2,800 foot decline at the historic Bulldog mine has begun and has now advanced over 100 feet. This decline will provide access to a resource of 37 million ounces of silver and underground exploration platforms to expand these resources. Support facilities such as the maintenance and shotcrete shops are completed and operational. Prior to the Company acquiring 100% interest in the Bulldog, it had historic production of approximately 25 million ounces of silver before it was closed by the previous owner in 1985 due to then low silver prices.

At the Star project, rehabilitation of the main level and the secondary escape ramp to surface are complete as well as development of a 750-foot exploration drift. The #5 Shaft rehab is complete and installation of the hoist has begun. Exploration drilling has begun from the new drift on the southeast extension of the Noonday and Morning Veins.

At San Sebastian, with the discovery of the Middle Vein mineralization, economic analysis has been delayed until the first quarter of 2013 to determine the Hugh Zone access. Hydrological studies are complete and initial metallurgy and mine design have begun on the Andrea.

Exploration

Exploration expenditures for the third quarter were $11.7 million, focused on all four properties.

At San Sebastian, drilling moved from the Andrea where resources are being updated, to the Hugh Zone and approximately 800 feet further north to the Middle Vein to follow-up on limited drilling from six years ago. Results at the Middle Vein have been very good, with high-grade intersections such as 0.36 opt gold and 39.2 opt silver over 7 feet. Two drills are currently active and have defined mineralization for over 3,000 feet of strike and from surface to at least 1,000 feet in depth. Drilling also continues to expand the Hugh Zone updip and to the northwest in parallel with the Middle Vein. An extensive list of assay intersections is provided in tables at the end of this press release.

At Greens Creek, underground drilling continues to extend ore-grade mineralization along trend of the Southwest Bench, 200 South, Gallagher, 5250 and 9a Zones, with exceptional widths and grades, such as 70 feet of 0.3 opt gold, 13.8 opt silver and 21% combined zinc and lead at the 200 South; and 73 feet of 0.17 opt gold, 17.58 opt silver and 23.7% combined zinc and lead at the Southwest Bench. In 2013, modeling of these intersections could result in significant additions to the resource. Surface drilling has successfully identified mineralization at Killer Creek 1.5 miles west-northwest of the mine that contains copper-rich veins and bands and one mile west of the mine at West Gallagher that contains pyrite mud intervals that have carried anomalous base and precious metal grades in the past. Killer Creek and West Gallagher will be priority targets for the 2013 summer program.

In the Silver Valley at the Star, drilling along strike to the southeast from known mineralization has produced good results with the best grading 29.1 opt silver and 8.9% combined lead and zinc over 5 feet. Drilling from underground and surface have confirmed progressively higher silver grades to the southeast where the mineralization trend is open. For 2013, more drilling is planned from the recently completed exploration drift and also from the surface.

At San Juan Silver in Creede, Colorado, drilling in the Equity ramp continues to have high grades on both the Equity and Amethyst Veins. Final drilling on the Equity structure includes an intersection of 0.17 opt gold and 22.3 opt silver over 10.1 feet. The mineralized zones at the Equity appear to be high grade with strike lengths from 100 to 300 feet but with significant down-plunge potential. Two underground drills are currently focused on the north-south trending Amethyst structure. Initial drilling has defined the upper limits of two distinct, steeply plunging mineralized vein trends along the Amethyst structural zone and include the intersection 0.27 opt gold and 33.4 opt silver over 4.7 feet.

CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST

A conference call and webcast will be held Tuesday, November 6, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss these results. You may join the conference call by dialing toll-free 1-866-510-0705 or 1-617-597-5363 internationally. The participant passcode is HECLA. Hecla's live and archived webcast can be accessed at www.hecla-mining.com under Investors or via Thomson StreetEvents Network.

ABOUT HECLA

Hecla Mining Company is among the largest and lowest cash cost silver producers in the U.S. The company has two operating mines, as well as exploration properties in four world-class silver mining districts in the U.S. and Mexico.

Cautionary Statements

Statements made which are not historical facts, such as anticipated payments, litigation outcome (including settlement negotiations), production, sales of assets, exploration results and plans, costs, and prices or sales performance are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "may," "will," "should," "expects," "intends," "projects," "believes," "estimates," "targets," "anticipates" and similar expressions are used to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, anticipated, expected or implied. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, metals price volatility, volatility of metals production and costs, litigation, regulatory and environmental risks, operating risks, project development risks, political risks, labor issues, ability to raise financing and exploration risks and results. Refer to the company's Form 10-K and 10-Q reports for a more detailed discussion of factors that may impact expected future results. The company undertakes no obligation and has no intention of updating forward-looking statements other than as may be required by law.

Cautionary Statements to Investors on Reserves and Resources

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission permits mining companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only those mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. We use certain terms on this release, such as "resource," "other resources," and "mineralized materials" that the SEC guidelines strictly prohibit us from including in our filings with the SEC. U.S. investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. You can review and obtain copies of these filings from the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.

HECLA MINING COMPANY

Condensed Consolidated Statements of Income

(dollars and shares in thousands, except per share amounts - unaudited)

  
Third Quarter EndedNine Months Ended
September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011September 30, 2012 September 30, 2011
Sales of products$81,871$120,543$240,043$374,767
Cost of sales and other direct production costs32,96141,63999,423125,033
Depreciation, depletion and amortization11,60111,09931,14134,565
44,56252,738130,564159,598
Gross profit37,30967,805109,479215,169
 
Other operating expenses:
General and administrative5,6955,55915,72314,808
Exploration11,7229,87224,47919,012
Pre-development5,4091,75212,2461,752
Other operating expense7361,6123,2855,699
Provision (credit) for closed operations and reclamation(1,093)5,5213,3207,883
Lucky Friday suspension-related costs6,11418,745
28,58324,31677,79849,154
Income (loss) from operations8,72643,48931,681166,015
Other income (expense):
Gain (loss) on derivative contracts(9,053)40,382(8,113)38,907
Interest and other income (loss)47(214)228
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