After months of delays, Fresnillo has announced that mining operations at Juanicipio will begin in October. Additionally, the company announced that despite the challenges, the project’s 2023 production guidance will not be negatively impacted.
The Juanicipio project is located in Zacatecas and is owned 56 percent by Fresnillo and 44 percent by MAG Silver. It consists of two main vein systems: Valdecañas and Juanicipio, which are prolific epithermal silver and gold structures. Both companies expect the project to produce 11.7Moz/y of silver and 43,500oz/y of gold.
In a press release, Fresnillo furthermore announced that even though more tests are required, past delays will not affect the project’s production forecast in 2023. The main challenge for Juanicipio was the Federal Electricity Commission's (CFE) delay in connecting the project to the grid.
Nevertheless, Fresnillo stressed that construction activities related to the grid have been concluded and all systems are ready to be connected. MAG Silver highlighted that both companies expect the 4,000 t/d processing plant to reach around 90 percent of nameplate capacity in 4Q22.
“Juanicipio is our next big growth project, the ninth new mine we have successfully built since we listed in London in 2008. We expect that the energy for the final commissioning and the start of operations should be available by the end of October. Production will begin immediately after,” said Octavio Alvidrez, CEO, Fresnillo.
“Having a safe and successful commissioning is crucial and we are respectful of the prudent approach being taken by the regulators in Mexico. Whilst we await the final tie-in, we are pleased with Juanicipio’s continued strong operating performance and increased processing opportunities at Fresnillo’s Saucito and Fresnillo facilities,” said George Paspalas, President and CEO, MAG Silver.
Regarding the exploration potential, MAG Silver previously stressed that since only 5 percent of Juanicipio has been explored, it is confident that the exploration program will lead to new discoveries. This would enlarge the project's resources and could even lead to a mill expansion. The areas with significant exploration potential in the Juanicipio project are the Valdecarias Vein Growth, Cesantoni and Venada, as well as potential upwelling fluid zones.
Currently, the project’s exploration program is progressing well with five surface drill rigs, one of which is testing the Cesantoni target in the northwest zone of the mining concession. In addition, the company is conducting underground definition and geotechnical drilling, reported MAG Silver.