Peñoles Plans to Reactivate Naica MineBy Paloma Duran | Tue, 12/08/2020 - 12:06
Industrias Peñoles is planning to reactivate its Naica mine in Chihuahua. The company and representatives of the Naica ejido reached an agreement to extract water from the mine and use it for agricultural purposes, which will benefit the municipality and boost the local economy.
Peñoles used to operate the Naica mine, which was famous for its cave filled with selenite crystals, as well as its lead, zinc and silver output. However, after major flooding at Naica in January 2015, operations were suspended. Back then, the company expected it could take five to six months to clear the water and resume production. However, this did not happen.
After 10 months of trying to drain the mine, Peñoles unsuccessful efforts cost more than MX$390 million (US$19.6 million). As a result, the company decided to discontinue indefinitely its activities at the Naica mine. More than 550 employees were let go, while others were relocated to other mining operations, reported El Heraldo de Chihuahua.
After the mine’s activities were suspended, there was an increase in violence and alcohol and drug abuse in the municipality. In addition, more than 460 families had to emigrate to other municipalities in search for employment, reported El Heraldo de Chihuahua.
Authorities tried to control the local crisis by delivering food packages, implementing temporary employment programs and using the water of the mine for agricultural activities. However, the situation did not improve because the Naica mine was the main generator of wealth and employment in the municipality, reported El Heraldo de Chihuahua.
For the past six years, there were speculations of reopening the mine. In 2017, Rea Hernandez, President of the Naica Section, said new mine veins were found in the area and in 2019, the Municipal President of Saucillo, Aide Lopez de Anda, said Peñoles was evaluating the mine to determine if it could be reactivated, reported El Heraldo.
Last week, Peñoles confirmed that development and exploration activities at the Naica mine will begin shortly. The main goal is to reactivate the exploration of the veins, which includes the hiring of 40 workers. The company said it is expecting to hire more workers as other essential activities resume, said El Heraldo de Chihuahua.
In addition, Rea said the municipality plans to start cultivating in February 2021 200ha, which will be irrigated with the mine water for the next three years. Rea said that previously, the land must be prepared, leveled and connected with the mine. The agreement was reached with the representatives of the ejido although it still needs the approval of the community. Rea said it is likely the community will accept it, reported El Heraldo.
Lopez de Anda said if the agreement is approved, Naica’s economy would be boosted by the mining sector, which aims to also benefit the agriculture and livestock of the municipality. She added this would rebuild the social fabric, which is highly dependent on economic stability.