Country focus: Mexico's biggest gold mines

By
Friday, June 9, 2017

Mexico's seven biggest mines produce more than half the country's total gold output.

The seven operations produced 492,667oz gold in Q1, according to BNamericas calculations.

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Countrywide output, based on forecasts and BNamericas estimates for 23 miners, is expected to reach 3.77Moz in 2017, or an average of 942,500oz per quarter.

Production by the seven mines fell from 510,289oz in 1Q16, due to factors including mine plan revisions and higher processing of stockpiled ore in the 2016 quarter.

Five of the seven are open pit operations, making up the vast bulk of production. The remaining two mines (Los Filos and Pinos Altos) are combined open pit and underground producers.

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Just two of the mines are Mexican owned (Fresnillo's Herradura and Noche Buena), accounting for 155,420oz or 31.5% of combined output, with the remainder owned by Canada-based miners.

LOWER COST

The mines are lower cost producers on average. Non-weighted average cash costs were US$569/oz in the quarter, compared to US$650/oz among Mexican gold mines as a whole (Fresnillo's mines are excluded as the company did not release Q1 cash cost data).

Three of the mines are located in Sonora state, with two in Guerrero, and one each in Zacatecas and Chihuahua.

Note: Minera Frisco's mines do not feature on the list as the company did not give a breakdown of production by operation in its Q1 results statements.

TOP SEVEN

1. Peñasquito: 137,000oz

Output at Goldcorp's biggest gold mine (pictured) increased from 125,000oz in 1Q16 on higher grades and a slight increase in ore milled.

Production is on track to beat the 2017 forecast of 410,000oz at the Zacatecas state operation.

2. Herradura: 107,742oz

Fresnillo's biggest gold mine, in Sonora state, saw production slip from 129,114oz. Production was boosted in 2016 by a reduction in inventories at the leaching pads.

Mexico's biggest gold producer expects to produce 870-900,000oz gold across its operations in 2017.

3. El Limón-Guajes: 70,887oz

Torex Gold's mine was Mexico's third biggest gold producer in the quarter, and the ramp-up to full production continues.

The mine produced 37,811oz gold in 1Q16, prior to the start of commercial production at the Guerrero state asset. Guidance for 2017 is 365,000oz.

4. Noche Buena: 47,678oz

Fresnillo's second biggest gold producer is another open pit operation in Sonora state. Output fell from 51,647oz due to lower recovery, partly offset by increased ore processed.

5. Pinos Altos: 45,360oz

Agnico Eagle Mines' biggest Mexican mine, located in Chihuahua state, saw output slip from 48,117oz.

The company expects production across its three Mexican mines to slip to 310,000oz in 2017, due to factors including changes to the mining sequence at Pinos Altos.

6. Los Filos: 44,000oz

Goldcorp recorded a sharp drop in output at the Guerrero state operation, from 81,000oz, due to a revised mine plan focusing on higher grades. Leagold Mining acquired the asset in April.

7. Mulatos: 40,000oz

Production at Alamos Gold's main Sonora state mine increased from 37,600oz, due to increased output at the heap leach operation, partly offset by lower mill production.

High grade production from the La Yaqui deposit is expected to boost output by end-2017. Guidance for this year is 150-160,000oz.