February 19, 2009 / 6:27 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Pan American Silver posts loss on charges

* Quarterly loss of $33.3 million

* Charges total $35.4 million

* Sees 2009 silver production of 21.5 mln oz

* Sees 2009 gold output of 85,000 oz

* Shares fall more than 5 percent (In U.S. dollars, unless noted)

OTTAWA, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Pan American Silver PAA.TO posted a big fourth-quarter loss on Thursday as it recorded a raft of charges for restructuring and currency losses, but the Canadian miner said it was well positioned for 2009.

Hard hit by plunging silver and zinc prices, the company said in November that it was cutting more than 500 jobs, reducing senior executive pay by 10 percent, and deferring projects.

“We have swallowed a bitter pill and taken the tough steps to reposition our mining operations,” Chief Executive Geoff Burns said on a conference call on Thursday.

“With our recent financing, no debt, and an untapped line of credit and expected positive operating cash flows this year, we are exceedingly well positioned to aggressively look for new growth opportunities.”

Pan American closed a $103 million share offering last week and intends to use the proceeds to fund acquisitions, development programs and for working capital requirements.

In 2009, the company expects to produce 21.5 million ounces of silver at an average cash cost $6.28 per ounce, while nearly tripling gold production to 85,000 ounces. Silver cash production costs are seen at $6.28 an ounce.

“Increasing our exposure to gold and silver could not be more timely,” Burns said. “The prices of both precious metals have significantly increased since the end of last year in response to an economic crisis.”

In the quarter ended Dec. 31, Pan American said it lost $33.3 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with a profit of $26 million, or 34 cents a share, in the year-before period.

The latest results were hit by $35.4 million in charges, including $15.1 million to write down the Quiruvilca mine in Peru, where Pan American will suspend operations due to high costs and declining silver production.

There was a further $8.8 million charge for price adjustments of concentrate shipments, a $5.8 million loss on currency positions and $4.7 million severance charge in the quarter.

Revenue fell 46 percent to $46.3 million, hurt by lower shipments and prices.

At the end of October, silver prices were at the lowest level since late 2005, with zinc prices down 55 percent from the same time last year and lead prices down 62 percent, Pan American said.

The company produced 4.6 million ounces of silver in the fourth quarter at a cash cost of $8.24 an ounce, compared with $4.54 a year earlier.

Shares in Pan American fell C$1.19 to C$20.61 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and lost $1.00 to $16.38 on Nasdaq on Thursday afternoon.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company currently operates seven mines in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, and just finished construction on the Manantial Espejo mine in Argentina.

$1=$1.26 Canadian Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Rob Wilson

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