by Steve St. Angelo, SRSRocco Report: The world’s second largest primary silver mine, Tahoe Resources Escobal Mine, was forced to shut down operations in Guatemala by a ruling from the country’s Supreme Court. This was due to a provisional decision by the Guatemalan Supreme court in respect of a request by CALAS, an anti-mining group, for an order to temporarily suspend the license to operate the Escobal Mine until there is a full hearing. (picture courtesy of Tahoe Resources)
While this story has been out for a few days, I believe there is a great deal of misinformation on the Mainstream and Alternative media about the current situation and future outcome of Tahoe’s flagship Escobal Mine. Some analysis suggests that this is just a small speed-bump for Tahoe, so when they are able to address disputed regulatory issues, production and profits will shortly return once again.
However, there also seems to be a another side to the story that could cause more problems for Tahoe with a much longer suspension time than the company is publicly stating. For example, the following was published in the article… Tahoe Resources forced to halt Escobal mine in Guatemala:
While Tahoe is preparing for a three-month mine suspension, Haywood analysts project no production from the mine for the remainder of 2017.
Here we can see that the company (Tahoe) is very optimistic that production at Escobal will start back in three months, while Haywood analysts forecast operations won’t likely resume this year. So, who should we believe, or which forecast is more correct? Before we get into the details, let’s first look at the impact of suspending the 2nd largest primary silver mine in the world on the market.
A Shutdown Of The Escobal Mine, Ranked #2 In The World, Would Remove 21 Million Oz Of Supply
According to the 2017 World Silver Survey, Tahoe Resources Escobal Mine ranked #2, behind Fresnillo PLC’s Saucito Mine in primary silver production in 2016. Here are the top five producing primary silver mines in 2016 (Moz – million ounces):
Saucito (Mexico) = 21.9 Moz Escobal (Guatemala) = 21.2 Moz Dukat (Russia) = 19.8 Moz Cannington (Australia) = 18.2 Moz Uchucchacua (Peru) = 16.2 Moz
Furthermore, the data in the 2017 World Silver Survey reports that a total of 265 million oz (Moz) of primary silver was produced last year. Thus, the Escobal Mine represents 8% of total global primary silver mine supply. If Haywood Analysts are correct that production at Escobal may not resume in 2017, than the mine is likely to lose nearly half of the 20-21 Moz forecasted for 2017.
While this is not a great deal of silver compared to total world silver supply of 886 Moz (in 2016), if the Escobal Mine is shut for a longer period of time, or indefinitely, it could impact the silver market over the next few years.
So, again… the big question for investors is, HOW LONG will the ESCOBAL MINE be shut down? Well, let’s look at some information and data that seems to be overlooked by the Mainstream and Alternative media.
What Is The True Nature & Future Impact Of The Suspension Of Tahoe’s Escobal Mine?
First… after the Guatemalan Supreme Court suspended operations at Escobal, Tahoe’s stock price took a real beating falling 33% that day. In the past week, Tahoe’s stock price decline 40%:
A lot of investors were caught by surprise as Tahoe Resources has been making a lot of money from its mines, especially from its Escobal Silver Mine in Guatemala. For example, in 2016 Tahoe Resources reported profits of $118 million on revenue of $784 million. That is a stunning 15% margin of profit… and the majority of that profit was from the Escobal Mine.
Second …. the rich profits from the Escobal Mine came at a cost. And the cost was in the way of “serious human rights violations through its operations”, stated by several sources. Unfortunately, many investors that follow the Mainstream financial media do not understand that the Escobal Mine has been, and continues to be, a subject of human rights abuse and violations from day one.