Southern Copper is developing three strategic projects in Mexico to boost copper and zinc production over the next few years.
The projects, all located in the northern Sonora state, will combine to increase zinc and copper production in the area by 93pc and 16pc, respectively, according to the company—which is controlled by Grupo México. In total, the projects comprise 90,000mt of copper and 80,000mt of zinc per annum.
One of the mines, Pilares, has capacity to produce 35,000mt copper concentrates per annum, and consists of an open-pit mine. This mine will receive a $159mn investment and production is slated to begin in the second half of 2021.
The second-biggest copper-producing project is El Pilar, which will see a $310mn infusion from Southern Copper, with production slated to begin in 2023. Its copper oxide mineralization contains estimated proven and probable reserves totalling $325mn mt of ore with an average copper grade of 0.287pc. El Pilar will also operate a conventional open-pit mine, and copper cathodes will be produced using SX-EW technology.
Approximately $413mn will be invested in the Buenavista zinc project, where operations will be initiated during the third quarter of 2022. It also includes the development of a new concentrator to produce about 80,000mt of zinc and 20,000mt of copper annually.
The projects’ basic engineering have been completed and their environmental studies are underway.