Hecla Mining Company (HL)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call

July 28, 2010 1:30 p.m. ET


Don Poirier - VP, Corporate Development

Phil Baker - President & CEO

Jim Sabala - SVP & CFO

Dean McDonald - VP, Exploration


Anthony Sorrentino - Sorrentino Metals

John Bridges - J.P. Morgan

Steven Butler - Canaccord Genuity



Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Second Quarter Financial Results and Conference Call for Hecla Mining Company. My name is Veronica and I'll be your operator for today. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct the question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions).

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Don Poirier, VP Corporate Development. Please proceed.

Don Poirier

Thanks Veronica. Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us today on Hecla's second quarter conference call. Our news release from earlier today and the slide presentation on the quarterly results is available on the Hecla website.

On today's call, we have Phil Baker, Hecla's President and CEO, and he's joined by Jim Sabala, Senior Vice President and CFO, and Dean McDonald, Vice President of Exploration.

Before we get started, I need to remind you that any -- sorry, excuse me -- that any forward-looking statements made today by the management team comes under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. It involves a number of risks that could cause results to differ from projections.

In addition to our filings at the SEC, we are allowed to disclose mineral deposits that we can economically and legally extract or produce. Investors are cautioned about our use of such terms as measured, indicated and inferred resources and we urge you to consider those disclosures that are provided in our SEC filings.

With that, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Phil Baker, Hecla's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Phil Baker

Thank you, Don. Hello everyone. Thanks for joining the call. If you will go to slide three entitled first quarter highlights. This second quarter was not a very exciting quarter unless you like making money and having robust operations that are flexible enough to deal with what nature throws at them.

And in a minute, I'll talk about how these operations and really, I mean, our people over the last number of quarters have dealt with changes in the mines. We produce 2.6 million ounces this quarter, slightly more than we did in the first quarter, but less than a year ago. However, our level of production is as planned, and we're on track to produce 10 to 11 million ounces.

Again, we had negative cash cost. That happened because of our cash management combined with about 90% lead and zinc. So, we ended up with negative $1.82 cost per ounce. When you combined that with our realized silver price, which was about $19, Hecla generated 54 million of operating cash flow for the quarter, second highest in our history and 73 million year-to-date.

This operating cash flow combined with the exercised warrants gives Hecla 197 million in cash. Finally, Hecla generated 13.7 million of income applicable to common shareholders, a continuation of strong earnings for the past four quarters, and that is despite in outsize tax provision.

Now turn to slide four. Margin in second quarter is greater than $20 per ounce. What this slide shows is the strength of our margins and that we generated this quarter and over the past nine quarters more than two years worth of information. The salmon color is our cash cost which if not the lowest in our industry is close to it. The blue bar is the margin which is calculated by subtracting our cash costs from the average market price.

So the last bar shows that in the second quarter we generated over $20 per ounce of margin. Seven of the last nine quarters, we've had double-digit margins with three quarters above $19. A key driver of that margin is our extremely low cash cost. So we continue to see prices in this range, I will expect we will see operating cash flow in excess of $150 million.

There are a lot of factors that go into the margin generation, but the biggest one is the price of the metals. After that come the three factors we focused a lot of attention on, grade, throughput and cost. Our workforce in operating management team is done a great job of managing and executing.

In the next two slides, look at these three factors by mine. And what I hope you will recognize from these slides is the robustness of these ore bodies that reflect their low risk profile and how well we mange them. So go to slide 5, Greens Creek optimizing mine volume.

At Greens Creek, our mine sequence and mining outside the mine plant has caused us to mine more of the base metals rich ore zones which had lower silver grades. And that's been true at Greens Creek almost since inception grades decline. And on this slide, you certainly see it since 2007. Mines tend to mine the highest grade first. Of course, at Greens Creek because there are so metals not all it decline, in fact zinc grades have been very steady even increasing this year over the last year.

But this decline in silver grade has reflected with a blue line on the right hand graph. So over the years, these grades have declined what we've done is increased throughput as you can see with the red line. This quarter we continue that trend of increasing throughput and at the same time are in higher grade stops than what we had in the first quarter and we expect these higher grades to continue for the rest of the year.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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