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Crises Are Times of Opportunity for the Mining Sector

Hernando Rueda - Vizsla Silver
Country Manager


Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 08/25/2023 - 17:31

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Q: How much has the environment for mining companies changed in the years since Vizsla started operating in Mexico? 
A: The pandemic triggered an economic recession and market downturn.  These external factors have affected us, along with internal struggles like changes to the Mining Law and other regulations. However, we have very clear objectives on which we are focused and we firmly believe that these times of crisis are times of opportunity.

Q: What will be the impact of the Mining Law reform on the mining industry and how will it affect Vizsla in the near term? 
A: We needed a mining reform but not like this. The companies that are already established in Mexico and have concessions are less vulnerable under the new Mining Law; however, new investors are being affected because when they try to enter the country and apply for a new concession, they are denied. What I foresee is that investors will start betting only on existing projects. 

Let's hope that conditions improve and that this law is not passed as it is so that there is greater certainty. In addition, more aspects of the law need to be clarified, such as retroactivity issues and what constitutes public consultations. But even if these challenges are not addressed, as a sector we will always follow the regulations that the government puts in place. 

Q: How can mining companies improve their communication channels to fight misconceptions about the sector? 
A: In any project and at any stage, it is essential to communicate effectively about what we do. Mining companies have evolved a great deal in terms of the environment and community relations. We are among the sectors with the least impact on the environment. For example, in terms of water, we are among those that consume the least. Furthermore, environmental issues are taken into account from the earliest stages of every project. At Vizsla, we appointed someone to be in charge of sustainability across our entire operation. 

At most of exploration companies, the person dedicated to environmental sustainability was also in charge of community relations, logistics and operations, so certain factors were neglected. It is important to communicate that we have learned and become better.

Q: What is the history of the Panuco project and its latest updates? 
A: We started in 2019 with the discovery of the Napoleon vein, which provided very good results. In 2020-2021, we started to explore other veins in the area, like Tajitos. By the end of 2021, we were working on the whole vein system. We have a 14km corridor with approximately of which 6,000ha comprises our focus area. We are currently focusing on 30% of these 6,000ha.

In 2022-2023, the Copala vein was discovered, which is one of the most important veins of the project. The first resource estimate was approximately 100 million silver equivalent ounces. The latest resource estimate doubled that amount, estimating 200 million equivalent ounces. In addition to these veins, we are also focusing on the Luisa vein, which runs southwest of Napoleon vein.

Q: What features make Panuco a strategic project for Vizsla Silver? 
A: Panuco is among the most important projects in Mexico because of its great development in such a short time and the many challenges it has faced. The mineralization of the project has been key to its growth and success. There are other projects in the state at the same stage as Panuco but our high resource estimate, instead of being based on the whole project, is only based on 30% of the area, leaving 70% of untapped potential. Another advantage is its strategic position, as it crosses two highways that connect Mazatlan with Durango. In addition, nearby communities have a rich mining culture, so it is easy to find skilled labor. All these factors make Panuco one of the most important exploration projects in Mexico. 

Q: Vizsla invested in Prismo Metals this year. Why did the company decide on this venture? 
A: Prismo has a property called Palos Verdes that is north of ours, so we are neighbors. This is a more technical and strategic alliance, as Prismo is managed by Peter Megaw.  We are interested in bringing in their high-quality personnel. With this investment, a technical committee was formed with our head of exploration and technical staff to further develop the projects and benefit from this technical collaboration. 

Q: From Vizsla Silver’s perspective, what is the future of the Mexican mining industry? 
A: We believe that all times of crisis are times of opportunity. We are going to see how the situation unfolds with the Mining Law. Outside of that, mining in Mexico has a great deal of potential. The sector must be more strategic with the new Mining Law and adhere to new ESG trends, especially involving communities. They are our neighbors with whom we have to coexist on a daily basis and we need to do that in the best possible way. This is our best letter of introduction as a sector and the main way to eliminate the stigma around mining in the country.

Regarding workforce management, we must focus on maintaining the same levels, with low incapacitating accidents, which are the lowest among the industrial sector. at Vizsla Silver, we are proud to say that we have reached more than one million hours without incapacitating accidents, a figure that shows our commitment to such an important assets as our staff is. 

Specifically, Vizsla will continue to develop the Panuco project, focusing especially on the unexplored area to find more ore. In the short term, we will try to push the project toward the production phase. There are no concrete dates but we are already analyzing how to start the next step. We have advanced some social and environmental studies and the public consultations required by the PEA, which is a good start.

Vizsla Silver is a Canada-based silver company. The company is engaged in exploring and developing its flagship project Panuco in Sinaloa. To date, Vizsla has completed over 250,000m of drilling. 

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