The four minerals that the Mexican mining company Fresnillo plc produced the most were silver, gold, lead and zinc, but in all of these it registered negative year-on-year growth in 2021, except for silver.
To begin with, full-year attributable silver production was 53.1 million ounces (including Silverstream), marginally below guidance and up 0.1% year-on-year.
This result was influenced by a higher ore grade in the San Julián disseminated ore body (DOB) and, to a lesser extent, the contribution of the Juanicipio development ore, offset by a lower grade and volume of ore processed in Saucito and Fresnillo. .
Meanwhile, full-year attributable gold production was 751,200 ounces, above guidance, down 2.4% from fiscal 2020, due to lower ore grade at Ciénega, and lower ore grade and a volume of ore processed at Vetas de San Julián, mitigated in part by a higher volume of ore processed and ore grade at Noche Buena.
On the other hand, Fresnillo plc registered decreases in its production of lead (-10.5%), to 56,573 tons, and zinc (-6.9), to 99,397 tons.
Construction of the Juanicipio plant was delivered on time during the fourth quarter of 2021.
However, the company is focusing on meeting new requirements from the state power company and energy regulator to complete the connection to the national power grid.
As a result, the mill start-up schedule was extended by approximately six months.
So the development of detention and mineralized mines will continue.
To mitigate potential adverse effects, Fresnillo will make available any unused plant capacity at its Fresnillo and Saucito operations to process material produced at Juanicipio.
As for its 2022 guidance, the company expects attributable silver production to be in the range of 50.5 to 56.5 million ounces (including Silverstream) in line with 2021 and below its previous estimate due to lower ore volume processed at Saucito due to staff shortages, coupled with absenteeism due to Covid-19, and lower ore grade as a result of instability caused by increased seismicity in the Jarillas vein limiting access to grade areas higher ore and therefore requires additional development to regain operational flexibility.
In addition, given the extension of the schedule for the connection to the national network of both the Juanicipio plant and the Pyrites plant in Fresnillo, the company estimates lower contributions from both operations.
Fresnillo plc also projects attributable gold production to be in the range of 600,000 to 650,000 ounces, primarily driven by the end of life of the Noche Buena mine.