Six Mega Mining Projects Set to Start in 2021
Six mega mining projects have begun development in Mexico, aiming to reactivate the mining sector which had a 50 percent investment decrease in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The projects are located in the states of Guerrero, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas and Sonora and will be focusing on exploration for gold, copper, silver, zinc and lithium. The companies leading these projects are Fresnillo, Torex Gold, Chesapeake Gold, Southern Copper and Bancora Lithium, reported La Jornada.
The most ambitious project is the one headed by Canadian company Chesapeake Gold, with an approximate investment of US$3.5 billion. This figure is quite significant, especially when compared to 2020 when overall investment for the mining sector reached approximately US$2 billion according to CAMIMEX.
Chesapeake Gold is currently the owner of the Metates project in Durango, which according to the BNAmerica is one of the largest underdeveloped gold, silver and zinc deposits in the world. Some of the advantages of the Metates mine are its low cost and development options. It also benefits from its early ore grade, low strip ratio and close proximity to key infrastructure. Another important project is located in Media Luna, Guerrero. This US$464 million project is owned by Canadian company Torex Gold and is scheduled to begin gold extraction in 2024 as reported by MBP.
Fresnillo plc is planning to invest US$440 million in Juanicipio, Zacatecas and US$430-million in Orisyvo, Chihuahua. Juanicipio is a joint project between Fresnillo plc and Mag Silver, with the former owning 56 percent of the project and being in charge of construction, development and operations. It is located 14km from the Fresnillo district. Ten years ago, it was identified as an important silver and gold prospect. In 3Q20, its total production was 394,000 silver oz, 610 gold oz, 138 tons of lead and 174 tons of zinc, reported by Fresnillo plc. The company is expecting to process an average of 16,000 tons per month in 2021. Plans to start commissioning the Juanicipio beneficiation plant will start this year, according to Fresnillo plc. The Orisyvo project, on the other hand, is 100 percent owned by Fresnillo and is still in its exploration stage. The company expects to extract 9.6Moz of gold and 12.3Moz of silver, reported Fresnillo plc.
The first lithium extraction project in Mexico will be managed and supervised by Bacanora Lithium. The company owns 77.5 percent of the Sonora Lithium project, while its Chinese partner Ganfeng Lithium owns the rest. The project is located in Sonora and has an initial investment of over US$420 million. It is planned to begin in 2023 with an estimated production of 17,500 tons of lithium each year.
The sixth project is Buenavista Zinc in Sonora, owned by Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo México. The initial investment is approximately US$413 million and is expected to start extracting zinc by 2Q22.
All investments mentioned are projected for the next two to four years, hoping to offset investment and development dips caused by the pandemic.