Durango Mine Profile

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 13:55


The Tayoltita gold-silver underground mine is located on the border of Sinaloa and Durango, some 125km northeast of Mazatlán in central western Mexico. This mining complex comprises five underground zones: San Antonio West, Sinaloa Graben, Central Block, Tayoltita, and Arana Hanging Wall block. Its epithermal structures contain variable amounts of mineralization with concentrations of gold and silver. All of the San Dimas mines are underground operations using mechanized cut-and-fill mining methods. Primero Mining carries out all of its milling operations at the Tayoltita mill, which currently has a throughput capacity of 2,100 t/d.


La Ciénega is a gold-silver mine located near the community of Nuestra Señora de la Ciénega in Durango. Fresnillo’s property consists of an underground mine and a flotation and leaching plant. The mine has ore bodies that include gold, silver, lead, and zinc concentrations, and has a current production of 59,644 ounces of gold and 2.188 million ounces of silver, with a workforce of 905 employees, including contractors. The mine has reserves of 830,000 ounces of gold and 54 million ounces of silver, and the estimated mine life is of 16.7 years. In addition, the mine produced 2,676 tonnes of lead and 2,919 tonnes of zinc in 2012. For 2013, a scoping study for the Las Casas project is planned, as well as the continued exploration of the Cebollitas cluster, a new mine satellite for La Ciénega.


La Parrilla mining district is located in the physiographic sub-province of Sierras y Llanuras de Durango, and consists of several large vein systems. First Majestic has historically focused its exploration efforts on the Quebradillas, Vacas, San Marcos, and La Blanca mines and the Cerro Santiago, Viboras, San Nicolás, and Sacramento areas. The property began operations in October 2004. It recently underwent a fifth major development project that further expanded the mill to 2,000 t/d. The expansion was deemed commercially effective in March 2012, when the new parallel 1,000 t/d flotation and 1,000 t/d cyanidation circuits became fully operational. At the newly designed run rate of 2,000 t/d, La Parrilla will produce in the range of 3.3 to 3.4 million ounces of silver equivalent annually.


The Guanaceví mine is located 260km northwest of the city of Durango. The 4,100 hectare property operates in low-sulphidation epithermal veins that are typically thousands of meters long, 600m deep, and 1 to 5m thick. Endeavour Silver acquired Guanaceví in 2004 and since then the mine has produced more than 15 million ounces of silver and 38,000 ounces of gold. The operations include three underground silver-gold mines, a cyanidation leach plant, mining camp, and administration and housing facilities. They provide employment for more than 450 people and engage nearly 200 contractors. In 2012 Guanaceví produced 2.5 million ounces of silver and 7,874oz of gold.

The state of Durango has a long mining tradition that dates back to pre-Hispanic times, reaching its peak during the time of Spanish Colonization. In 1552 the Cerro de Mercado iron deposit was discovered, and shortly afterwards the city of Durango was founded. By 1604 the region had 52 mines and 23 processing haciendas. By 1897 this number had grown to 709 mines and 89 processing haciendas. The main mineral deposits discovered throughout Durango’s history have been La Ojuela, Topia, Canelas, Velardeña, Tayoltita, Cerro de Mercado, Bacis, Avino, Guanaceví, Magistral del Oro, La Ciénega de Nuestra Señora, La Platosa, Indé and Peñoles.

According to the Mexican Geological Survey there are at least 75 mining projects at the exploration and exploitation stages in Durango, which has 23 mining regions that are usually associated with the magmatic formations of the Sierra Madre Occidental, and less commonly in the Sierra Madre Oriental. During 2011 Durango ranked third in the country for the number of foreign mining

companies operating in the state, totaling 91. That year the state’s metal mining production value amounted to US$900 million, representing 6% of Mexico’s total mining production value. Regarding nonmetallic minerals, the state is also an important producer of bentonite, marble, and perlite.

In 2010 Peñoles acquired the Velardeña project from Grupo Mexico, and invested US$230 million in modernizing the mine operation, which started production in the first semester of 2013. In 2011 Fresnillo expanded its Santiago Papasquiaro processing plant, which operates by flotation at a capacity of 2,200 t/d Chesapeake Gold has invested US$3.5 billion in its Metates project, which is considered to be one of the largest undeveloped gold and silver projects in the world. The prefeasibility study indicated a large 120,000 t/d open pit operation with a 20 year mine life and accumulated gold production of 17.2 million ounces. Over the course of the mine life the project is expected to generate US$20.1 billion.


The Topia silver-gold-lead-zinc property is located in the heart of the Topia mining district in Durango. The property consists of four discrete blocks of mineral exploitation concessions covering 6,438 hectares. The concessions are owned by Great Panther’s Mexican subsidiary Minera Mexicana El Rosario. The Topia silver-gold-lead-zinc mines are small narrow-vein underground operations utilizing a modified cut-and-fill mining method known as resuing. The ore is processed to produce separate high quality precious metal-rich lead and zinc concentrates. These concentrates are transported to the Pacific port of Manzanillo where they are sold to commodity traders. Production at this mine reached 555,710oz of silver in 2012.


El Castillo is an open-pit gold mine located 100km north of the city of Durango. The El Castillo mine lies in the Altiplano Subprovince of the Sierra Madre Occidental region of Central Mexico. Construction commenced in 2007 with commercial production reported in 2008. The project was acquired by Argonaut Gold in 2009 and within just one year of acquiring ownership of the property the production profile was brought up to a 72,000oz run rate. El Castillo produced 87,712oz of gold in 2012, but for 2013 it is expected that it will reach between 90,000 and 100,000oz per year. The El Castillo mine is a relatively low grade gold deposit that benefits from low strip ratio and disseminated mineralization that is complimentary to bulk mining activities and good heap leach recoveries.


The Velardeña mining district is located within the municipality of Cuencamé, in the northeast quadrant of the State of Durango, Mexico. The Velardeña mine is situated on the eastern flank of the Sierra Madre Occidental mineral belt, on the boundary between the Sierra Madre and the Mesa Central metallogenic provinces. The regional geology is characterized by a thick sequence of limestones and minor calcareous clastic sediments of Cretaceous age, intruded by Tertiary plutons of acid to intermediate composition. Golden Minerals installed two mills on this asset: a 300 t/d flotation sulfide mill located near the town of Velardeña and a 550 t/d cyanide leach oxide mill with a Merrill Crowe precipitation circuit and newly-installed flotation circuit. Golden Minerals suspended production on June 21, 2013, when the property was put onto a care and maintenance program to conserve the asset until operating plans and silver and gold prices indicate a sustainable cash margin for operations.


El Herrero is an underground gold-silver mine located in the province of Barrancas in the state of Durango. In 2012 El Herrero produced 20,500oz of gold and 1.47 million ounces of silver; the precious metal concentrates are taken to Peñoles’ refinery in the city of Torreon, Coahuila to be processed.