Javier Téllez
Director General of Commercial
CyPlus Idesa
View from the Top

Demand Spurs Local Cyanide Production

By Paloma Duran | Fri, 09/03/2021 - 14:07

Q: What made the company want to become a cyanide producer in Mexico?

A: Mexico has been a mining country for more than five centuries and it continues to grow. The technological advances of the 20th century allowed to explore and intensify the mapping and identification of mineral deposits. Mining also plays and important role in the economy by contributing 2.4 percent to the Mexican GDP.

The geological potential of the market is huge, representing 70 percent of the territory while only 11 percent has been granted in concessions. Today, Mexico has 991 mining projects, with 665 in the exploration phase, 45 in development and 107 in production. It also has 33 world-class mineral deposits, making it the largest silver producer in the world and the 11th largest producer of gold.

Sodium cyanide is an important chemical reagent used for the extraction of gold and silver and the best option in terms of cost-efficiency and environmental impact, making Mexico one of the largest in the world. In the past, sodium cyanide was supplied mainly through imports coming from the US and Europe, leaving the industry overexposed to supply chain risks. Our expertise in cyanide production and technology development led us to invest in a production plant in Mexico. Having a local source of cyanide supports the mining industry by ensuring the supply and continuity of precious metal production.

Q: What risks are associated with using cyanide?

A: The topic of cyanide in mining is still controversial due to its hazardous nature. There are risks; however, those can be mitigated if cyanide is handled safely and following the proper regulations. The International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC) is our environmental and responsible handling standard. This international code regulates and monitors the production, distribution and handling of cyanide. There are also technologies and processes to neutralize this reagent and there are also national and international regulations for water-waste management to ensure that mining companies are addressing their potential impact.

We are pioneers in a direct absorption process that allows our plant in Coatzacoalcos to have the highest safety standards against local and international regulations. The logistic chain was developed considering maximum safety; it is monitored at all times and is ICMC certified. We ensure safe transportation by using the safest logistic channels. We implement procedures to evaluate risks and identify controls along the logistic chain to be aware of conditions that may require additional precautions. We also conduct due diligence evaluations at ports and ocean shippers to ensure efficiency and maximum safety in our logistic process.

We developed an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that we shared with authorities such as the Ministry of Security, Civilian Protection, the local police, the army and the Mexican Red Cross. Our goal is that everybody involved in an incident knows exactly what to do to prevent environmental impact or human loss. We also train our personnel and customers on cyanide safety and antidote application in case of cyanide intoxication. That training was developed exclusively for us by Mexican and German doctors.

 Q: Why did the company choose to locate its plant in Veracruz?

A: Availability of raw materials is a key element in our decision-making process. In Coatzacoalcos, our raw materials were available within a 30km radius, easing transportation and ensuring availability. Another reason was that the region had an already established petrochemical industry. Coatzacoalcos hosts one of the biggest petrochemical industries in Mexico and qualified personnel to participate in our production process.

Q: How do you expect demand for cyanide to develop in the short term?

A: The mining industry suffered from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of operations last year diminished the growth potential. After more than five years of high results, the market is now consolidating toward more moderate growth rates. For the coming years, we are expecting mines will recover their production rates. Based on the good expectations for gold and silver prices, together with the geological potential of our territory, Mexico will continue to grow, supported also by the declining quality of gold and silver ores which spurs an increased demand for leaching reagents.

Q: What new innovations is CyPlus developing?

A: We will continue to assess our supply chain to find better ways to get our products and services to customers. We are also looking to migrate into new IoT technologies and services, incorporating them into our value chain. We have joined this wave of technological developments to optimize many of our processes.

CyPlus Idesa is a joint venture between Germany’s Evonik and Mexico’s Grupo IDESA. It was founded in 2010. CyPlus Idesa supplies sodium cyanide to the mining industry in Mexico with the support of CyPlus GmbH, which has more than 60 years of experience in the production of cyanide in Europe.



Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst