Exploration: projects and prospects
Strategic focus: Extend the growth pipeline
We believe that consistent exploration investment is essential in maintaining a healthy project pipeline: core to our growth strategy and a key element in extending mine life. We maintain the largest land area of concessions for precious metals exploration and mining in Mexico. We do this through continuous investment in exploration irrespective of price cycles, and ongoing acquisition of mining concessions and surface land.
|Las Casas-Rosario & Cebollitas Cluster|
Key growth driver
We focus on the discovery and potential acquisition of large, low cost silver and gold ore bodies in Latin America, in regions with the greatest geological potential and mining tradition such as Mexico and Peru. Prospects must have a minimum potential of 100 million ounces of silver or 2 million ounces of gold equivalent, and meet strict criteria on ore grades, metallurgical recoveries, extraction costs and environmental impact, in order to proceed.
The Group has four Exploration Offices in Mexico – Zacatecas, Toluca, Chihuahua and Hermosillo and one in each of Peru and Chile. Each has an HSECR programme focused on health, safety, environmental management systems and community engagement initiatives that allow us to build positive relationships from the earliest interactions. We have built an experienced exploration team of 80 geologists and 74 technicians and administrative staff, and employ 300 local community members at our project sites.
Our geologists have significant technical expertise and a proven track record of new discoveries. We also look for opportunities to acquire early-stage projects with strong growth potential or to partner with other groups through agreements that allow us to share the inherent benefits and risks of prospect exploration. This comprehensive approach results in a pipeline of projects that extend across the multiple stages of exploration (detection, discovery and definition) and ensure long-term organic growth.
Our long-term objective is to discover and develop economically viable silver-gold deposits and to advance new and early stage prospects into the drilling and advanced exploration phases.
Investment at current mines helps replenish reserves and explore areas of influence; at development projects we convert resources into reserves and expand the total resource base; prospecting and drilling at early stage prospects and projects feeds our growth pipeline.
The development of underground mines takes time, with results from surface drilling requiring confirmation by underground exploration and the metallurgical testing of bulk samples. We conduct initial underground exploration and development in the pre-feasibility phase in a manner that will optimise the investment and shorten future mine development schedules.
Exploration Update (4Q16)
- Exploration in the fourth quarter was focused on our Herradura, Fresnillo, Ciénega and San Julián mining Districts, and the Guanajuato, Rodeo, Candameña and Pilarica projects
- Resources and reserves (operating mines) were increased and presently in audit by SRK (results to be disclosed in 1Q17)
- Parametric drilling carried out at the Guazapares, Coneto and Cairo early stage prospects
- Diamond drilling at these mines, projects and prospects totalled 214,206 metres in the period
- Channel sampling and a revision of the resource models were conducted at the Orisyvo and Centauro gold deposits where preliminary economic studies will be advanced in 2017
- Five project submittals were evaluated in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina, and systematic prospecting of gold-silver belts in the same regions are in progress
- US$52.1 million of exploration expenses were recorded in the income statement, down 30.9% over 1H15 resulting from a slower pace of drilling
- US$7.7 million were capitalised
- Exploration drilling totalled 265 km, across the Fresnillo, Herradura, Guanajuato, San Julián, Guazapares, Pilarica, and Huacravilca Districts, and 12km at other early stage prospects
- Interesting drill intersections with gold-silver values were obtained at San Julián, Guanajuato and Fresnillo
- Channel sampling and mapping of cross-cuts at the Centauro Deep and Orisyvo advanced exploration projects continued
- Additional surface land was acquired in key areas, additional negotiators were assigned to intensify this process
- Six teams of geologists prospecting and evaluating submittals in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango and Jalisco in Mexico, as well as Central Peru and and Northern Chile
- New targets identified and in negotiation / in permitting stage for parametric drilling