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North American Palladium Ltd (PAL)

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North American Palladium             (PDL.TO, PAL) lost nearly 12% and hit its lowest levels in more than a dozen years in regular hours Wednesday. But it then rose more than 9% in after-hours trade yesterday as it reported on the progress of its production ramp up from the lower Offset Zone utilizing the new shaft infrastructure at its Lac des Iles palladium             mine in northern Ontario.
In January, it said, underground production averaged over 3,100 tonnes per day, ahead of the company's operating guidance, which forecast an average underground mining rate of approximately 3,000 tonnes per day for the first half of the year. The company estimates that payable palladium             production in January totaled approximately 15,200 ounces, which was approximately 15% above internal forecasts and represented one of the best months in the last two years of operation. Production in January also benefited from higher underground grades which averaged approximately 4.90 grams per tonne palladium             .
The company said it has also started to benefit from its ongoing mill improvements, with January recoveries averaging around 84% from a blended concentrate mill head grade of approximately 3.35 grams per tonne. The company's plans to modify the design of the underground ore handling system are on track, which upon completion should increase the tonnage hoisted through the shaft and accordingly result in decreased mining costs.
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