strategic minerals europe (SME) has continued to improve on its record production at penouta, the EU's largest active tin mine, by recording its highest first-quarter total production levels.
Penouta, located in north-western spain, has been in operation since 2018 and successfully transitioned to open-pit mining early last year.
Total production for the first quarter of 2023 reached a record 121 tonnes, an increase of 157% on the 47 tonnes recorded in the same period of last year. This significant increase in production is a testament to the company's operational strategy and resource management. Meanwhile, the total tin-in-concentrate produced during the first quarter also increased by 145% from 40 tonnes in Q1 2022, to 98 tonnes in Q1 2023. This increase in production also coincided with an increase in tin grade, rising from 68.9% to 69.5% in the respective quarters.
A key contributing factor to these gains is attributed to the successful commission of the company's primary crushing plant, an overhaul of its plant which ensured continued efficiency and productivity, as well as the granting of permits to conduct blasting at the open-pit. In addition to Penouta's operational improvements, SME has also secured financing to further its operations and pursue growth strategies and successfully negotiated an off-take agreement with Traxys, which will ensure a steady market for SME's increased production.
Our View: After a record-breaking 2022 for production at Penouta, it is great to see that strategic minerals are not resting on their laurels and have continued to record high production rates at the start of 2023. The off-take agreement with Traxys is positive and indicates that SME are looking to maintain the upward trajectory in production. It will be interesting to see if these production rates increase and can be maintained throughout 2023.