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Q:There have been lots of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the gold mining space over the past two years, and even senior silver mining companies have been acquiring gold mines, but there have been very few silver acquisitions. Why is that, and what if a

A: You are quite right; the fact is there are very few M&A opportunities in the silver space and even fewer economically robust silver projects or mines or companies at these low precious metal prices, which is why most silver miners are looking at gold opportunities, as there are more to choose from.

We have been fortunate to own two economically robust silver-gold mines at Guanaceví and Bolañitos in recent years, and the current mine expansion at our El Cubo mine is intended to drive its all-in sustaining costs down so that it too can start making free cash flow. Although our emerging new high-grade discovery at Terronera is currently the subject of a pre-feasibility study to become our fourth mine, management is still motivated to grow through M&A as well.

Like other companies, we have expanded our M&A strategy in the past two years - even though we prefer Mexico, we are now looking in Canada, USA, Peru and Chile; even though we prefer silver dominant opportunities, we are now looking at gold dominant opportunities; and even though we prefer operating mines, we are looking at exploration and development stage mines and companies to add to our project pipeline for future growth.

There are typically three types of M&A transactions available: major transactions such as a "merger of equals" to acquire a profitable mine or company for immediate growth; moderate transactions to acquire large development projects for near-term growth; and minor transactions to acquire attractive exploration projects for long-term growth.

We firmly believe the adage "buy low, sell high" applies to company M&A as well as investments, and we would very much like to do at least one M&A transaction if not more this year while metal, stock and property prices are low. Having said that, it "takes two to tango" to make a "win-win" deal.

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