Country focus: Investment rebounds in Mexico's mining sector

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Investment in Mexico's mining sector is forecast to rebound this year, with spending rising sharply on exploration, expansions, new projects and equipment.

Total investment is expected to come in at US$5.53bn, up 47.4% from last year's US$3.75bn, according to industry chamber Camimex.

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The projected 2017 figure is the highest since 2013 (US$6.58bn), but considerably lower than the recent peak of US$8.04bn in 2012.

Investment in 2016 was the lowest since 2010 (US$3.32bn).

The improvement in 2017 follows a recovery in the prices of many of Mexico's main mining products, including gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc.


One of the biggest areas of investment growth in 2017 is exploration.

Spending is expected to more than double to US$866mn from US$430mn last year, Camimex said in its 2017 annual report.

The rise reflects increased confidence among miners in light of higher metals prices and reductions in production costs.

Latin America's biggest gold miners expect to spend US$722mn on exploration in 2017, up from US$607mn last year, with five of the region's top silver miners forecasting US$280mn, up from US$210mn, according to figures compiled by BNamericas.


Investment in new projects is also in for a substantial increase this year, to US$650mn from US$467mn, Camimex said.

New projects receiving investment this year include Fresnillo's US$515mn San Julián silver-gold mine and Torex Gold's US$800mn El Limón-Guajes gold mine (pictured), both of which are ramping up to full production.

Over the coming years, investment in new projects is dominated by gold, with projects worth US$2.49bn due to begin production in 2017-20, the report said.

The largest are Torex's Media Luna (US$482mn), Goldcorp's pyrites leach project at the Peñasquito mine (US$420mn), and Fresnillo's Orisyvo and Juanicipio projects (US$350mn and US$305mn, respectively).

Over the same period, primary silver projects costing US$545mn are due to come on stream, including Industrias Peñoles' Rey de Plata, along with US$65.0mn of copper projects.


Investment in expansions of existing assets is forecast to outstrip that in new projects this year, at US$954mn, up from US$558mn.

Pan American Silver is currently advancing expansions at its La Colorada and Dolores mines, costing US$164mn and US$112mn, respectively, with Fresnillo planning to spend US$110mn expanding its Herradura gold mine.


Investment in equipment is also on track for a sharp rise, with US$914mn forecast for this year, up from US$625mn, according to the chamber.

Miners also plan to invest US$431mn in maintenance, up from US$376mn, and US$250mn in environmental improvements, up from US$190mn.


The value of Mexico's mining production slipped to US$12.5bn in 2016 from US$13.5bn the previous year, Camimex said, citing figures from statistics agency Inegi.

Gold was the biggest value mining product, accounting for 37.4% of the total, followed by copper (19.0%), silver (18.0%), zinc (6.5%), iron (3.3%), coke (2.8%) and lead (2.4%).