GOLDEN, Colo., Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Golden Minerals Company (NYSE MKT: AUMN; TSX: AUM) ("Golden Minerals" or "the Company") today provided a summary of its 2013 operating plan, projecting increased production in 2013 and positive gross margin at the Velardena Operations commencing in the third quarter, and of its program to define longer term operating and expansion plans for Velardena. The Company also announced its intent to solicit a partner to advance its El Quevar property in Salta, Argentina and to reduce El Quevar holding costs.
Velardena 2012 payable production totaled approximately 780,000 payable silver equivalent (AgEq) ounces, or an average 195,000 AgEq ounces per quarter. Payable silver equivalent ounces include only payable gold (at a 50:1 ratio to silver) plus payable silver and exclude lead and zinc. Velardena's average quarterly production in 2012 is about 60 percent greater than the 122,000 AgEq ounces of sold production reported for the second quarter 2011, the final reporting period prior to Golden's acquisition of the property in September 2011.The Company anticipates 2013 payable production of about one million AgEq ounces, almost 30 percent greater than 2012 payable production. The Company also expects to produce approximately 4 million pounds of combined payable lead and zinc in 2013. The Company expects a substantial 80 percent increase in payable silver in 2013, combined with an approximate 30 percent decrease in gold production. Forecasted improvement in silver output is a result of increased grade due primarily to improved longitudinal vein dilution control and to improved recoveries resulting from the late 2012 addition of a flotation circuit ahead of the leach circuit in the oxide plant. The flotation circuit is currently operating and producing a lead concentrate averaging between 15 to 20 kilograms (480 to 640 ounces) of silver per tonne. The forecasted decrease in gold production is primarily the result of reduced gold recoveries in the current plant configuration from material mined from new areas which appears to have a different gold metallurgy than material previously mined. The Company has initiated a testing program to address gold recovery, discussed further under Mine Development and Operations below.