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Spotlight

EFFICIENCY, INNOVATION TO INCREASE SILVER PRODUCTION

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 16:31

Fresnillo’s silver district already leads Zacatecas’ mineral production. However, innovative technologies will help production of this commodity to reach its full potential. Ongoing and historical tailings will be reprocessed to recover silver and gold at a pyrite plant at the Fresnillo and Saucito mines. The pyrite plant will produce 3.5 million oz of silver and 13,000 oz of gold on a yearly basis at full capacity with an associated cash cost of US$2.50 per ounce and a total investment of US$155 million.
To kick off this plan, Fresnillo concluded the construction of a 2,000t/d dynamic lixiviation plant in 2Q18. By the end of the year, the asset produced 977,000 oz of silver and 3,600 oz of gold, respectively. In 2019, the project continued with the development of a flotation tailings dam with the capacity to process 14,000t/d. Overall, the plant will froth float pyrite concentrates that will be leached at a dynamic leaching plant and a Merrill Crowe plant to produce precipitates. This first stage in Fresnillo’s plan represented a total investment of US$54.6 million investment.
Fresnillo’s optimization strategy is crucial to increase the district’s competitiveness. Fresnillo is one of the world’s oldest mines, beginning operations around 1554. Saucito, on the other hand, started operations in 2011. Both assets are crucial for the country’s silver production. Saucito alone contributed 32 percent of Mexico’s total silver production in 2018. The Fresnillo asset, meanwhile, produces close to 24 percent of Fresnillo’s total silver.
The pyrite plant is already up and running at Saucito and the company plans to develop a second phase at the Fresnillo mine. Through a flotation circuit, ongoing and historical tailings from this mine will be processed to produce pyrite concentrates, which will be sent to a filtration and leaching process at Saucito to obtain the needed precipitates. According to CAMIMEX’s 2019 Annual Report, this flotation tailings dam positions it as one of the main new silver projects in the country, together with mines like Capela, Juanicipio and Camino Rojo. The second phase of the project represents a total investment of US$53.8 million and is expected to start operations by 2H20.