Salvador García
COO
Starcore International Mines
/
View from the Top

During Uncertain Times, Gold is the Answer

By Lorenzo Núñez | Wed, 08/04/2021 - 09:59

Q: Do you still have confidence in gold prices in the post-pandemic market?

A: While the pandemic resulted in many negative factors, one positive consequence was that gold remained strong. Despite all the recent market volatility, gold remained a safe haven for investors. Every single gold-mining company, and even silver miners, have seen quite a benefit from the rise in metal prices. We are also seeing an increase in the copper price and other metals like lead and zinc, which ultimately means good news for the industry. Bluntly speaking, the pandemic helped keep metal prices strong.  At Starcore, we are sitting in a particularly good position compared to last year, mainly due to these prices. In the post-pandemic era, there is still a great deal of uncertainty but gold prices remain high.  

 

Q: What do you believe the metal of the future will be?

A: I believe that gold will remain the most important strategic precious metal. Not only for its commercial use as a refuge of the investors in uncertainty times, but also for its increasing industrial use. The same could be said about silver. It has evolved from primarily being used in jewelry to a more industrial type of metal. As the markets recover in the US and China and continue to crawl back to normality, metals are expected to increase in demand. This is good news for the mining industry. Most metals have a promising future, but gold leads the pack.

 

Q: What is the status of exploration at the El Creston project and what does the company hope to achieve by the end of the year?

A: El Creston is a well-known and recognized molybdenum project. It is only a part of the claim we have there, which has never been explored for its gold and silver ore deposits. El Creston has 7,000ha and we are working on the permits to work on 3,000ha of the claim. We have just begun the exploration phase. We have discovered a great potential for deposits of precious metals, specifically gold and silver. We are working on a price quotation with diamond drilling companies after the environmental permits are sorted out. Soon after, we plan to work on two veins with high potential yields, based on our first geological studies including metallurgical tests. According to a recent geological review of the El Creston Data, it could present at depth a big copper porphyry, so we are starting to work on that in order to have a geological model of the area. We are very happy with our El Creston project and we firmly believe that with our experience with precious metals, we will add to El Creston and claim it as a great precious metal project.

 

Q: You mentioned that Queretaro is a good state in terms of economic development. What sets it apart from other mining hubs?

A: One the most critical factors that Queretaro still provides is safety for its residents.  Unfortunately, when operating in other mining states, safety becomes a real and risky factor for a mining operation. In our time operating in the state of Queretaro, we have not had a single incident. Another key element is the state’s government itself. It has proven to be most helpful in terms of granting permits. In addition, we have been there since 1993 and the community has seen a good amount of development. From an earnings perspective, employees have been able to obtain more competitive salaries thanks to mining. Government officials and community members have established good relationships.  The only thing missing in Queretaro are more exploration projects in order to increase the presence of the mining industry in the state.

 

Q: What are the areas for exploration and development in San Martín Mine and what area their potential yields?

A: We have two main areas of exploration at San Martín, which are continuations of our already operating mine. One is the north part of the mine, considered the deepest part of the mine. After some exploration work in the area, we were able to find high-quality resources confirmed with eight positive holes which are already in development. This has helped us stabilize our production while we continue our exploration developments. On the east side, we have a great deal of water. We have just concluded a 100m-deep well construction with an installed pump to extract the water and lower its levels to continue the access ramp to reach the elevation where we have four positive holes so far. This will allow us to continue exploring this promising area that we believe contains good volumes of ore.

 

Q: How did the pandemic change the way Starcore views automation as a potential alternative in mining operations?

A: We have been pushing to make mining more sustainable, for which automation must be the solution. The pandemic made everyone recognized the need to find a solution to continue operating while keeping workforce numbers low. In our case, we had to redistribute our workforce from San Martín and El Creston due to personnel limitations. In addition, we have our own automated equipment already operating in the mine in the form of electrohydraulic jumbos. These have allowed us to maintain productivity levels, while personnel follow safety protocols. There will always be some form of limitation for these types of equipment due to the nature of the mine itself. For instance, the way the underground veins are presented, mainly in their width, sometime makes it impossible for these current technologies to work.

 

Starcore International Mines is engaged in precious metals production with a focus on Mexico. Its base of producing assets is complemented by exploration and development projects throughout North America.

Lorenzo Núñez Lorenzo Núñez Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst