During the third quarter of 2012 the mine completed a total of three shipments of copper concentrate, to smelters in Japan, containing approximately 12.1 million pounds of copper, 3,400 ounces of gold, and 81,800 ounces of silver. Gross sale value, based on provisional pricing is estimated at $48.3 million prior to pricing adjustments. Production from the mill during the quarter was 12.5 million pounds of copper, 4,315 ounces of gold, and 77,166 ounces of silver, the higher gold content is the result of increased ore from Pit #2.
As previously announced on September 17th the ramp up to full production has taken longer than expected. Mill operating time was negatively impacted during the third quarter due to SAG mill grate replacements and extensive tailings line maintenance, both of which are now complete. Following the planned mill maintenance shutdown at the start of August; whereby the recently received newly designed grates were installed in the SAG mill, and electrical modification to the ball mill motors were made, as well as repairs to the tailings line, unscheduled downtime has been decreased providing confidence that the mill can operate at the planned 92 percent availability. Subsequent to the planned maintenance shut down in early August, the Company has attained design mill throughput.
From a mining point of view, the addition of the extra mining equipment announced earlier this year has assisted in increasing the mining capacity and has also allowed flexibility in mine planning. Mining in Pit 2 has been accelerated to be developed in parallel with Pit 3, as part of the new mine optimization plan. Mine production is continuing above the planned rate of 160,000 tpd.
In addition, during the quarter the Company continued with its 2012 exploration program which forms the first part of a larger three year exploration strategy for the property. The objectives of the exploration program are threefold: determination of the potential long-term pit limits, conversion of resources to reserves in order to assist with near to mid-term mine planning and continued exploration of outlying or new areas of mineralization. There are currently two diamond drills on the property which are focused on mineralization at depth in the southern end of Pit 3 and around Pit 2. Results will continue to be released as drilling progresses.