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Answer: We announced in December 2018, that we were reducing our production at El Cubo in 2019 in order to buy time to do more exploration to replace depleted reserves. Throughout this year, we guided several times the possibility of closure at El Cubo if we did not find new reserves. We had a 2019 mine plan that ran to year-end, however, we exhausted the reserves early, so we made the difficult decision in late november to suspend operations at El Cubo.
While we do not provide production guidance each year until late January, we have made a number changes to our operations to improve and expand production at each of our three other mines. We are looking forward to a better year and filling the mills closer to capacity to make up much of the production lost from suspending El Cubo. El Compas production should be higher because it only achieved commercial production in April this year so 2020 will be its first full year of production. Guanacevi production should be higher because the low grade, high cost Porvenir Norte and Santa Cruz mines will close shortly, replaced by the new, higher grade, lower cost Milache, SCS, and P4E orebodies which we expect could fill the plant to its 1200 tpd capacity. Bolanitos production should be higher because we have a solution for the arsenic problem in the concentrates and changed the mine plan to access different areas and orebodies, which could allow us to ramp up production in the plant to its 1300 tpd capacity.
We are currently evaluating our alternatives for El Cubo. One option is to move most of the mine and plant assets (mine equipment and supplies, plant circuits and supplies, buildings etc) to our development projects in order to reduce the anticipated capital required to build the new mines. A second option is to sell El Cubo and use the funds for our development projects. A third option is to evaluate the possibility of acquiring other orebodies within a 40 km drive of the plant.
So even though we are suspending mine operations at El Cubo, and we plan to proceed with closure and reclamation, the final chapters of the El Cubo story may not yet be written.