PRECIOUS METALS

Fortuna's Q4 production impresses but 2022 guidance underwhelms

Canadian precious-metals miner Fortuna Silver's production finished 2021 on a strong note, but newly released guidance for the current year came in below expectations.

Nathan Richardson
 Fortuna Silver's San Jose operation in Mexico

Fortuna Silver's San Jose operation in Mexico

For the fourth quarter of 2021, the company - which has mines in the Americas and West Africa - recorded consolidated silver production of 1.98 million ounces, which is up from 1.7Moz in the third quarter. Consolidated fourth-quarter gold production was 76,162oz, compared with 65,400oz in third quarter. 

Canaccord Genuity Capital Markets analyst Dalton Baretto said the fourth-quarter gold production beat CG's forecast by 5% and noted particularly strong performance at the Lindero mine in Argentina. Lindero produced 36,000oz, or 35% of the full-year production, which beat CG's forecast of 30,000oz. 

Fortuna said that the Lindero fourth-quarter production was a three-month record and had surged 37% over the previous quarter. 

"During the fourth quarter, the operation screened 60 positive cases of COVID-19 onsite, with no disruptions to the operations. Travel restrictions to the country were lifted in November, which led to an improvement in lead times and onsite technical assistance from foreign vendors," the miner said. 

Fortuna's fourth-quarter gold production also beat BMO Capital Markets' forecast by 2%, analyst Ryan Thompson said. 

And the miner's fourth-quarter consolidated silver production beat CG's forecast by 6%, and BMO's by 13%. 

For the full-year, Fortuna's gold production was 207,192oz, which was a massive 247% above 2020's results. Silver production was 7.5Moz, 5% higher than in 2020. 

"Our focus is now on the 2022 guidance figures, which were universally weak relative to our estimates," Baretto said. 

Fortuna set 2022 gold production at 244,000-280,000oz, which would be a 16%-35% increase over 2021. Silver production was set at 6.2-6.9Moz, at an expected year-on-year fall of 8%-17%. 

"Based on the mid-point of the respective guidance ranges, gold and silver production is expected to be 16% and 14% below our respective forecast," CG said. 

BMO had been expecting gold production guidance of 303,000oz and silver production guidance of 8.6Moz. 

Fortuna last traded on the TSX at C$4.59/share. It had been trading in a range between C$4.50/share and slightly above C$5/share since late December.

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