Hecla Reports 2012 Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results

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Hecla Reports 2012 Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results

25% Increase in 2013 Silver Production Expected with Restart of Lucky Friday Mine

Silver Reserves and Resources Increase for 7th Consecutive Year


For the Period Ended December 31, 2012

For Release: February 25, 2013

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) today announced 2012 revenue of $321.1 million and gross profit of $143.5 million with net income applicable to common shareholders of $14.4 million, or $0.05 per basic share, and earnings after adjustments applicable to common shareholders of $34.2 million, or $0.12 per basic share, for the year.1 Full year silver production in 2012 was 6.4 million ounces at a total cash cost of $2.70 per ounce, net of by-products.2

FULL YEAR 2012 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Produced 6.4 million ounces of silver.
  • Total cash cost of $2.70 per ounce, net of by-products.2
  • Operating cash flow of $69.0 million.
  • Cash and cash equivalents of $191.0 million at December 31, 2012.
  • Year-end silver reserve levels highest in Company history, increasing for the 7th consecutive year, with silver reserves up 2% to 150 million ounces. In addition, mineralized material increased by 7% to 22.4 million tons averaging 5.7 ounces of silver per ton and other resources increased by 37% to 23.4 million tons averaging 7.4 ounces of silver per ton.
  • Gold mineralized material increased fourfold to 1.7 million tons averaging 0.07 ounces of gold per ton and other resources increased 75% to 13.5 million tons averaging 0.05 ounces of gold per ton.
  • Exploration programs in 2012 succeeded in identifying new and highly prospective targets in addition to increasing resources at each of Hecla's pre-development and exploration projects.

FOURTH QUARTER 2012 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Net income applicable to common shareholders of $0.6 million, or $0.00 per basic share, and earnings after adjustments applicable to common shareholders of $10.2 million, or $0.04 per basic share.1
  • Silver production of 2.1 million ounces at a total cash cost of $3.45 per ounce, net of by-products.2
  • Completed cleaning and upgrading of Lucky Friday Silver Shaft. Production has resumed in Q1 2013.
  • Declared quarterly common stock dividend of $0.0125 per share of common stock, which includes a regular quarterly common stock dividend of $0.0025 per share and a special dividend of $0.01 per share.

(1) Earnings after adjustments applicable to common shareholders represents a non-U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) measurement. A reconciliation of net income applicable to common shareholders (GAAP) to earnings after adjustments can be found at the end of the release.

(2) Total cash cost per ounce of silver represents a non-GAAP measurement. A reconciliation of total cash cost to cost of sales and other direct production costs and depreciation, depletion and amortization (GAAP) can be found at the end of this release.

2013 GUIDANCE

  • Expected full year 2013 silver production of approximately 8 to 9 million ounces.
  • Consolidated company-wide cash costs (based on current metal prices) are expected to be approximately $5.00 per ounce of silver, net of by-products, consisting of approximately $3.25 per ounce at the Greens Creek mine and $11.00 per ounce at the Lucky Friday mine.
  • Lucky Friday's costs are expected to be higher in the first half of the year as it proceeds through a restart phase. Per ounce cash costs are expected to be approximately $17.00 in the first half of the year, and are expected to decline to approximately $9.50 per ounce during the second half.
  • Expected Company-wide capital expenditures of $152.0 million.
  • Expected $51.5 million for 2013 exploration and pre-development expenses.

"This past year, with the Lucky Friday down, Greens Creek generated strong silver production and cash flow to allow record capital investments that are expected to generate not only higher silver production in 2013, but expected organic growth well into the future. For the full year, the Company produced 6.4 million ounces of silver at a cash cost of $2.70 per ounce, still among the lowest costs and highest margins of the major primary silver producers," said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer. "In 2013, we are expecting silver production levels to increase more than 25% to approximately 8 to 9 million ounces."

"With MSHA modifying certain orders allowing use of the shaft to the deepest loading pocket, and allowing us to access some of the stopes, we have initiated production of ore and shipped our first concentrates earlier in February. Shaft rehabilitation work will be ongoing and we expect to be in full production in the third quarter. We have done other upgrades and work that we believe make the Lucky Friday a better, more reliable, longer living mine," Mr. Baker added.

"Lastly, our exploration program in 2012 continued to achieve success and grew silver reserves, mineralized material, and other resources. In addition, primarily as a result of our efforts in Mexico, gold mineralized material increased nearly fourfold and other gold resources increased 75%. Meanwhile, our pre-development projects continue to advance toward a planned company-wide goal to produce 15 million ounces of silver production in 2017."

FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

Hecla reported 2012 revenue of $321.1 million and gross profit of $143.5 million. These results were achieved by Greens Creek alone while the Lucky Friday mine was on standby for rehabilitation work on the Silver Shaft and other upgrades. Full year operating cash flow was $69.0 million, which was impacted by the payment of $25.0 million made in connection with our Coeur d'Alene Basin environmental liability settlement that was reached in 2011.

   Fourth Quarter Ended    Twelve Months Ended
HIGHLIGHTS   December 31, 2012   December 31, 2011    December 31, 2012   December 31, 2011
FINANCIAL DATA (000s)                 
Sales$81,100   $102,867$321,143   $477,634
Gross profit$34,037$49,826$143,516$264,995
Income applicable to common shareholders$605$18,431$14,402$150,612
Basic income per common share$$0.07$0.05$0.54
Diluted income per common share$$0.06$0.05$0.51
Net income$743$18,569$14,954$151,164
Cash provided (used) by operating activities$2,528$(118,049)$69,016$69,891
 

Hecla completed a record level of capital investment at its existing operations of $36.6 million and $118.2 million for the fourth quarter and twelve-month period ended December 31, 2012, respectively. These included $29.8 million in 2012 for the Silver Shaft rehabilitation and $26.2 million for other work at the Lucky Friday, and record capital investment of $62.2 million at Greens Creek. At Greens Creek, investment was focused on underground mine development and definition drilling, mining fleet replacement, tailings dam expansion, and the construction of expanded and upgraded camp facilities.

Pre-development expenditures totaled $5.7 million and $17.9 million for the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2012, respectively. Pre-development expenditures in the fourth quarter were primarily for infrastructure and engineering and permitting studies at the San Sebastian project in Mexico, the San Juan Silver property in Creede, Colorado, and the Star Complex in the Silver Valley, Idaho.

Exploration expenditures (including corporate development) for the fourth quarter and twelve-month periods were $7.3 million and $31.8 million, respectively.

Metals Prices

Realized silver prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 were $29.20 per ounce, 8% less than that in the same period in 2011, while for the twelve-month period realized prices were 9% lower than the same period in 2011. In the fourth quarter of 2012, there were negative price adjustments of $5.7 million, compared to positive price adjustments of $0.07 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Increases in prices in the time period between the shipment of concentrate and final settlement resulted in positive adjustments to provisional settlements of $3.8 million in 2012, compared to net negative price adjustments to provisional settlements of $2.6 million in 2011.

      Fourth Quarter Ended    Twelve Months Ended
        December 31, 2012   December 31, 2011    December 31, 2012 December 31, 2011
AVERAGE METAL PRICES               
Silver -London PM Fix ($/oz)$32.64   $31.82$31.15 $35.11
Realized price per ounce$29.20$31.61$32.11$35.30
Gold -London PM Fix ($/oz)$1,719$1,685$1,669$1,569
Realized price per ounce$1,647$1,640$1,687$1,592
Lead -LME Cash ($/pound)$1.00$0.90$0.94$1.09
Realized price per pound$1.00$0.82$0.96$1.05
Zinc -LME Cash ($/pound)$0.88$0.86$0.88$1.00
Realized price per pound$0.91$0.87$0.90$1.00
 

Base Metals Forward Sales Contracts

The following table summarizes the quantities of base metals committed under financially settled forward sales contracts at December 31, 2012:

   Pounds Under Contract    Average Price
(in thousands)per Pound
Zinc   LeadZinc   Lead
Contracts on provisional sales      
2013 settlements14,9916,945$0.95$1.00
 
Contracts on forecasted sales
2013 settlements35,93532,794$0.96$1.11
2014 settlements30,20333,069$0.98$1.03
2015 settlements3,30723,534$1.01$1.06
 

OPERATIONS OVERVIEW

Production was down year-over-year due to halted production at the Lucky Friday mine during 2012, as well as ground support rehabilitation work at Greens Creek in the first half of 2012. Fourth quarter and full year silver cash cost, net of by-product credits, was $3.45 per ounce and $2.70 per ounce, respectively, compared to $2.28 per ounce and $1.15 per ounce, respectively, in the same period in 2011.

      Fourth Quarter Ended    Twelve Months Ended
December 31, 2012   December 31, 2011    December 31, 2012  December 31, 2011
PRODUCTION SUMMARY
Silver -Ounces produced2,081,328   2,491,2246,394,235  9,483,676
Payable ounces sold1,538,1621,923,3655,430,2528,119,634
Gold -Ounces produced15,56313,74555,49656,818
Payable ounces sold10,82810,05043,13343,942
Lead -Tons produced5,8488,19421,07439,150
Payable tons sold3,9457,04615,73333,050
Zinc -Tons produced15,58417,38464,24973,355
Payable tons sold12,58315,91450,89553,901
Total cash cost per ounce of silver produced (1)$3.45$2.28$2.70$1.15
 

(1) Total cash cost per ounce of silver represents a non-U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) measurement. A reconciliation of total cash costs to cost of sales and other direct production costs and depreciation, depletion and amortization (GAAP) can be found at the end of this release.

Greens Creek Mine - Alaska

Silver production at Greens Creek in 2012 was 6.4 million ounces for the year and 2.1 million ounces in the fourth quarter. The mine demonstrated steady production increases during the course of 2012, producing 2.7 million ounces in the first half of the year, increasing by 37% to 3.7 million ounces in the second half. The decrease in silver production year-over-year is attributable primarily to the ground support rehabilitation work performed in the first half of 2012.

Total cash cost per ounce of silver produced at Greens Creek was $3.45 and $2.70, net of by-products, for the fourth quarter and full year, respectively, compared to $0.42 and negative $1.29, net of by-products, for the same respective periods in 2011. The increase in total cash cost per ounce for the full year was primarily due to higher production costs of $2.03 per ounce, due primarily to increased use of contract miners, and lower by-product credits of $1.84 per ounce. The decrease in by-product credits is due mainly to lower prices for by-product metals.

Lucky Friday Mine - Idaho

The Lucky Friday mine resumed production in the first quarter of 2013, following a one-year shutdown to rehabilitate and enhance the 6100 foot Silver Shaft and rehabilitate ramps and drifts. All mine employees have now been recalled to work and have received extensive safety training. Mine production, which resumed in February, is expected to ramp up to normal levels by mid-year as we perform additional rehabilitation and get necessary clearances from MSHA, with full year production of more than 2 million ounces of silver expected in 2013.

The Lucky Friday #4 Shaft project construction has also resumed, with shaft sinking set-up activities, primary mechanical and electrical systems, and critical lateral development largely complete. Construction work is expected to focus on shaft sinking and station development activities until project completion, which is expected in 2016. Total project capital is expected to be approximately $200 million, with approximately $92 million spent to date.

In 2012, Hecla spent approximately $29.8 million on rehabilitation work and $26.2 million for other capital projects at the Lucky Friday. The Company incurred non-capitalized expenses of $25.3 million, which includes holding costs and #4 Shaft care and maintenance.

RESERVES & RESOURCES

Hecla replaced mined silver production and added additional mineralized material and other resources. Total proven and probable reserves increased 2% to 150 million ounces of silver, mineralized material increased 7% to 22.4 million tons averaging 5.7 ounces per ton and other resources increased 37% to 23.4 million tons averaging 7.4 ounces per ton. In addition, gold mineralized material increased fourfold to 1.7 million tons averaging 0.07 ounces of gold per ton and other gold resources increased 75% to 13.5 million tons averaging 0.05 ounces of gold per ton.

The ore reserves in Table A are based on $26.50 per ounce of silver, $1,400.00 per ounce of gold, and $0.85 per pound of lead and zinc.

EXPLORATION AND PRE-DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

Exploration expenditures were $31.8 million in 2012, including $7.38 million for San Juan Silver, $6.35 million for Lucky Friday/Silver Valley, $5.74 million for Greens Creek, $5.48 million for San Sebastian and $650,000 for Monte Cristo, Nevada.

Pre-development expenditures were $17.9 million including $11.5 million at the San Juan Silver project, $4.77 million at the Star Complex and $1.65 million for the San Sebastian property.

Greens Creek - Alaska

Exploration

Greens Creek exploration, while not replacing reserves this year, made significant progress in growing the potential of the 200 South and NWW zones. 200 South had some of the widest and highest grade intercepts in recent history at the mine. See drill assay highlights in tables at the end of the release. 2013 is expected to be a year of infill drilling in order to develop a mine plan on 200 South and Southwest Bench. Assays were received on surface drilling at Killer Creek that define a 150-foot wide zone of stockwork veins which comprises intervals with silver up to 1.5 ounces per ton and copper up to 5.4%. This, combined with discovery of zinc mineralization 1,500 feet away at the mine contact, might be the turned over roots to a new mineralized zone. Surface drilling at Killer Creek during 2013 is expected to consist of 25,000 feet and is expected to provide additional intercepts in this new mineralized zone.

San Sebastian - Mexico

Exploration

Re-examination of district potential near the past producing Francine Vein at San Sebastian led to the discovery of the Middle Vein during the year. The Middle Vein has both precious metal rich and base metal rich sulfide mineralized zones. The higher-grade gold-silver mineralization forms other resources of 8.8 million ounces of silver and 45,011 ounces of gold that has been outlined through systematic drilling. The base metal rich sulfide mineralization appears similar in character to the Hugh Zone. Mineralization has been traced for approximately 3,000 feet along strike and to a depth of 1,000 feet and the deposit appears open for extension along strike and to depth.

With the new resource for the Middle Vein, and resource additions on the Andrea Vein, the mineralized material for the San Sebastian property has increased to 4.4 million ounces silver, 73,900 ounces gold, 14,640 tons lead and 19,080 tons zinc. Other resources have increased to 23.9 million ounces silver, 159,700 ounces gold, 25,880 tons lead and 36,040 tons zinc. Potential extensions to both the Middle Vein and Hugh Zone structures to the northwest and southeast remain strongand the Middle Vein is open to depth. The Andrea Vein remains open along strike and at depth. Exploration in 2013 is planned to evaluate the North Vein complex in the vicinity of the Middle Vein.

Pre-development

Further scoping studies are in progress to determine the production viability, rate and sequencing of mining the three resource areas and are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013. Concurrent with the completion of the scoping studies, a ramp is being engineered for initial construction, expected this year, to allow access to both the Hugh Zone and Middle Vein. Metallurgical, hydrology and geotechnical studies are also all advancing.

San Juan Silver - Colorado

Exploration

While underground drilling in the Equity Vein system at the San Juan Silver property has outlined multiple zones of high-grade, gold and silver-bearing veins, this work has yet to define sufficient tons to be part of a potential operating plan. However, underground drilling through the second quarter of 2013 will follow-up on high-grade surface drill intersections where the Equity and Amethyst mineralization trends converge. While there continues to be potential in the Equity Amethyst system, development of the Bulldog infrastructure will be prioritized in 2013.

Pre-development

Initial scoping studies and economic models confirm continuing advancement of the Bulldog decline. The 2800-foot long decline has now advanced over 800 feet. The expected fourth quarter 2013 completion of the decline will access old workings and the ore body. This access is expected to allow confirmation of the resource and advancement of the ongoing scoping studies.

Silver Valley - Idaho

Exploration & Pre-Development

Rehabilitation of the Star 2000 level was completed in 2012 providing access to exploration platforms. Drilling from these platforms has continued to discover more mineralization at similar grades as found in the resource. Drilling to follow up on higher-grade surface holes located to the east is expected to continue until April when the Star data is expected to be integrated into the Lucky Friday optimization study. After April, no further underground exploration or pre-development is anticipated on the Star in 2013. Some surface drilling in the summer is proposed along the nearby Noonday and You Like trends.

Monte Cristo - Nevada

Exploration

The 6,100 acre Monte Cristo property in Nevada, located along the Walker Lane structural belt within the Gilbert mining district, was acquired in July and hosts epithermal precious metal mineralization. The initial near-surface resource is estimated to be 913,000 tons containing approximately 131,300 ounces of other gold resources at 0.14 ounces per ton gold. The 2013 exploration program is focused on areas outside the identified resource.

Junior Exploration Investment Program

As part of the Company's junior exploration investment program initiated in 2012, Hecla has recently made equity investments in Dolly Varden Silver Corporation (DVSC), Canamex Resource Corporation and Brixton Metals Corporation (Brixton). DVSC has a 36.6 square mile land package in northwestern B.C. and has indicated plans for a substantial drilling program in 2013. Canamex has a 3.28 square mile land package in central Nevada (Nye County) and has indicated plans to continue to follow up on high-grade drill intersections at its Bruner property. Brixton is currently focused on the exploration

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