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Great Panther Silver's Efforts To Improve Operations Pay Off, With Further Growth Planned In 2013

Mexico-focused Great Panther Silver (TSE:GPR) (NYSE MKT:GPL) reported Wednesday 23% higher production in its fourth quarter as efforts to improve operations at both mines start to pay off.

Shares in the silver miner rose almost 2% in early deals, to $1.56 as of 9:40am ET.

This year, the company said it plans to focus its efforts on reducing costs, and preparing for the development and production of its San Ignacio property in 2014.

For the fourth quarter, the company said today that metal production rose 23% to 672,690 silver equivalent ounces from a year earlier, on the back of a 28% increase in silver output to 453,934 ounces.

Gold production was up 24% and lead and zinc output both rose 36%.

Total ore processed increased by 30% to 67,659 toones.

The silver miner and explorer is focused on mining precious metals from its two wholly-owned operating mines in Mexico, Guanajuato and Topia

"We are pleased to report a strong fourth quarter to finish the year with several quarterly and annual production records at both operations," said company CEO, Robert Archer , in a statement.

"We have made, and continue to make, improvements and changes at both mines that we believe will continue to have a positive impact going forward."

At the Guanajuato mine complex, the company processed 50,550 tonnes, up 26% from a year earlier, as metal production included a record 298,750 ounces of silver and 2,656 ounces of gold - for 458,092 silver equivalent ounces, up 25% from a year ago.

Plant metallurgical performance remained strong, with metal recoveries of 89.2% for silver and 90.9% for gold, Great Panther said.

At its Topia mine, a record 17,109 tonnes were processed, up a whopping 42% from the prior year's fourth quarter. Metal production rose 20% year-over-year to 214,598 silver equivalent ounces for the best quarter of the year.

Recoveries at Topia were 88.4% for silver, 54.1% for gold, 91% for lead and 90.7% for zinc, which the company called "satisfactory".

Great Panther also owns San Ignacio, a development-stage property that covers about four kilometres of strike length on the La Luz vein system, which is parallel to, and five kilometres west of the principal Veta Madre structure that hosts the company's Guanajuato mine complex.

The company began exploring San Ignacio in 2010, with 29,789 metres of drilling completed so far on the project, and recent results extending mineralization beyond the limits of the current resource.

With the acquisition of surface rights last August for the property, the company proceeded with the application for the permits required for underground development, which it expects to have in place by the end of this quarter.

New portal and ramp construction is anticipated to begin early in the second quarter, Great Panther said, while first vein development should be extracted by the fourth quarter. Production is anticipated to start to ramp up early in 2014.

The silver miner also continued with exploration at its El Horcon silver-gold project in Jalisco State, which is located 60 km northwest of Guanajuato, allowing for the potential to become a satellite mine for its operations.

El Horcon is a past-producing mine and Great Panther expects to start a 3,000 metre surface drill program this quarter to delineate a resource.

Looking ahead, the company said it will increase cash flow by cutting costs and continuing to improve operational efficiency at its existing operations, while building the platform for more growth.

For the year, Great Panther forecast metal production in the range of 2.4 to 2.5 million silver equivalent ounces - compared to 2.38 million ounces in 2012, which was up 8% from 2011.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.