Canadian firm SSR Mining has commenced commercial production at the Chinchillas silver-lead-zinc mine located in the Puna region of Argentina’s Jujuy province.

The Chinchillas mine is part of the company’s Puna Operations joint venture with its partner Golden Arrow Resources.

Ore from the mine is processed at the Pirquitas plant, which is located 42km from the mine. During the test phase, the plant processed Chincillas ore at a rate of 3,000t/d and SSR intends to ramp up the processing rate to 4,000t/d this month.

Activities completed to support ore delivery to the Pirquitas plant include pre-stripping of the pit, road bypasses, refurbishment and mobilisation of the haul truck fleet. A crushed ore stockpile dome was also built at the Pirquitas site.

SSR Mining President and CEO Paul Benson said: “Declaring commercial production at Chinchillas marks another major milestone as we continue to deliver growth and value for shareholders.

“Our team’s execution capabilities brought the mine in on schedule, in line with our expectations. Together with the communities and government, we are building on our success at Puna Operations over the last few years.”

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The company expects to complete other infrastructure at the Chinchillas and Pirquitas sites through the first quarter of next year.

“Together with the communities and government, we are building on our success at Puna Operations over the last few years.”

As of December 2017, the project had proven and probable mineral reserves of 58 million ounces of silver at an average grade of 154g/t, 310 million pounds of lead at an average grade of 1.20% and 127 million pounds of zinc at an average grade of 0.49%.

Based on a pre-feasibility study, Chinchillas is estimated to have average annual silver equivalent production of 8.4 million ounces over a mine life of eight years.

SSR owns a 75% operated interest in Puna Operations. The miner also operates the Marigold gold mine in Nevada, US, and the Seabee gold operation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Last month, SSR agreed to invest in SilverCrest Metals through a private placement in order to own 9.9% of the issued and outstanding common shares in the company.