by John Begeman
We have always understood that some level of risk existed for Premier shareholders in the decision to transition our company to a gold producer from an exploration only business model. Our belief, however, was that the risk of not making the transition was greater. The very difficult business climate of 2013 through 2015 did provide an opportunity for Premier to make a well-timed acquisition of what would become our initial producing asset at South Arturo in Nevada. This was followed quickly by our Mercedes acquisition in October of last year. So far, the transition we envisioned for our company several years ago has been going very well.
The continued strong performance at both of the Premier Gold operating sites, including the extension of open pit mining at South Arturo, has resulted in a spectacular cash position and a historic strong balance sheet. Consequently, we have increased our 2017 production guidance.
One item may come as a surprise to you. Attributable gold production from our first four quarters as a gold producer has exceeded 200,000 ounces. That can only be considered an achievement if operating margins on that production are acceptable. We believe we have checked that box as well. The financial performance from this past production will allow for further funding support of our project pipeline.
While the operating environment has improved since the end of 2015, we are by no means out of the woods. Central banks around the world are now more apt to consider interest rate increases, which may exert pressure on the price of gold in the near term. We believe that the best defense against any difficult operating environment is a combination of great people, great projects and discipline.
All three can be difficult to find. However, I continue to be proud of the whole Premier Gold team that continuously works to deliver results on our projects with the utmost of professionalism and care.