Efficient Mining Production Relies on Integrated ServicesWed, 10/21/2015 - 17:16
According to Ernst & Young’s Business Risks in Mining and Metals 2013- 2014 report, apart from operational challenges, capital allocation and access to capital represent the most important risks facing the mining industry. DMV Group, a Mexican firm involved at virtually every stage of the mining process, is fully aware of these challenges and the effect they have on its clients. “The fact that we operated our own mines for many years has given us unequalled experience and sophistication. We have multiple divisions within our group that can cover all the needs of a mine throughout its lifetime,” explains Francisco Alanís Gutiérrez, Director Partner at DMV Consultores. The group’s experience dates back to the late 1960s when Francisco Alanís Quiñonez obtained the San Rafael and Fanny mines in Durango, subsequently creating what is now the Group’s DMV Minera division. Since then, the Group has worked on a number of projects as operators, contractors and consultants, and has acquired a wealth of experience in the mining industry that few contracting and consulting firms can lay claim to have. DMV Group is hard at work to acquire private capital in order to continue investing in its mining projects. “The expansion costs of our existing projects currently exceed the company’s available capital. In order to take advantage of projects in Mexico and the rest of the continent, we are trying to attract additional investors,” he adds. Since the group specializes in building projects from the ground up, it is actively looking to advance available projects from the prefeasibility stage into production.
Following the disincorporation of the assets of the Mining Development Trust (FIFOMI) in 1991, the group decided to acquire one of FIFOMI’s beneficiation plants as a way to increase its mineral processing capabilities and production. Despite having had to sell part of its mining operations to Endeavour Silver in light of the low prices of metals, DMV Group’s continuing involvement in the project as external consultants gave rise to DMV Consultores. Now, over 40 years after the purchase of the San Rafael and Fanny mines, DMV Group has continued to grow inside and outside of Durango. It has been involved in several important mining projects such as Silver Standard’s La Pitarrilla mine and First Majestic’s La Parilla. It also employs over 200 contractors and consultants, and owns a range of advanced mining equipment. “The services that we provide help our customers to identify, control, and optimize the most relevant production variables,” underlines Alanís Gutiérrez. Of these variables, the firm focuses heavily on increasing the Throughput Potential (TP) of the processes within mining systems.
Based on the group’s experience, Alanís Gutiérrez claims that the ideal project for them is an underground project with high grade minerals. Ideally, this needs to be located in a property with enough geological knowledge for identifying the sections not yet mined, but this could be difficult to find. Although projects with thin veins of 300 g/t of silver do exist, the projects that DMV Consultores handles, such as San Rafael and Fanny, produce between 200-260 g/t of silver with gold containing minerals of 4-5 g/t gold grades. In terms of exploration, DMV Group looks for strategic alliances with other consulting firms or independent geologists. However, from the mine design stage onwards, DMV Consultores is able to draw on the group’s capacity to fulfill its clients’ needs, be it assistance with prefeasibility, economic feasibility studies, or metallurgical processes. With regards to mineral processing, DMV Group’s experience was greatly advanced by the construction of its flotation plant at the San Rafael mining site. “When constructing our beneficiation plant, the objectives were to support our extractive operations and provide a service to the communities that rely on small-scale mining. Our flotation plant is able to process 120 t/d,” explains Alanís Gutiérrez. At the moment, the firm is evaluating the option of adding a mill and a leach pad in order to further increase production. Due to the lower grade ore produced at some of the company’s mining sites, Alanís Gutiérrez mentions that they require beneficiation processes better suited for low grade mineralization. “In fact, we are considering lixiviation with thiosulfate as an aim to innovate our chemical processes. Cyanation is the most common method but we are confident that there are other more cost effective methods with a lower environmental impact.”
Providing this wide range of services naturally requires a talented and skilled workforce. However, with large, multinational companies coming into Mexico, it has become harder for DMV Group to attract the right professionals. “It is very tough to compete with Canadian companies that have great purchasing power, are able to provide an attractive salary, and offer friendly working hours,” says Alanís Gutiérrez. However, with the recent crisis in the global metals markets, mining companies are reducing their work force and laying off hundreds of employees. This is something that DMV Group would never do, according to Alanís Gutiérrez. “Our commitment to our employees and the close ties formed throughout the years has allowed the Group to maintain a loyal and highly dedicated workforce.”