The Canadian mining company invested 420 million dollars to process waste material from the largest gold mine in Mexico.
The Peñasquito mine, in Zacatecas, is the largest open-pit gold deposit in the country. Every day, the mine operated by the Canadian company Goldcorp processes 110,000 tons of ore to turn it into gold.
Although the operation was already profitable (in 2017 476,000 ounces were produced), some years ago Goldcorp engineers realized that the pyrite in the deposit contained a high concentration of gold and silver molecules.
Pyrite is a bright gold mineral that is used to produce sulfuric acid. Because it shines with the naked eye it has been known as “the gold of fools” or “the gold of the poor”.
For two years, Goldcorp has invested in the establishment in Peñasquito of a pyrite leaching plant, which will allow extracting the gold and silver contained in this mineral that was previously considered waste.
Leaching is a chemical process with which it is expected to recover around 40% of the gold and 48% of the silver in the pyrite.
Michael Harvey, director of institutional relations and security at Goldcorp, says that it will be possible to obtain between 120 and 150 thousand ounces of gold per year, as well as allowing the mine to be extended three more years.
The plant will start operating in December and will allow Peñasquito to reach a number of 4,000 employees. The mine accumulates an investment of 5,000 million dollars, another of the projects in the implementation of its Towards Zero Water program, whose technology has allowed them to reach an 80% percent in the reuse of water.
According to figures from S & P Global Markets Intelligence, Mexico concentrates 5.8% of the global investment in mining, equivalent to 400 million dollars each year.
Michael Harvey explains that Goldcorp does not currently have new exploration projects in the country and warns that problems such as the lack of rule of law or insecurity have a significant influence on investment decisions. Currently, it says 80% of the cost of an ounce of gold stays in the country through production cost.
In Mexico, 80.7% of mining production is concentrated in metals such as gold, copper, silver, and zinc.