by Steve St. Angelo, SRS Rocco Report:
The largest primary silver mine in the world saw its average yield fall to the lowest level ever in 2015. Matter-a-fact, the primary silver mine’s yield fell nearly 16% compared to last year. This is a substantial decline in productivity from the world’s largest mine in Mexico that starting production in 1824.
Actually, the area where this mine is located–Zacatecas, Spaniards start producing silver all the way back in 1540. When initial production at the Great Fresnillo Mine started in 1824, Mexico was producing 55% of the world’s silver production. The ore grades were much higher in those days.
For example, average yields for silver production in the United States and Australia in the late 1800’s was 40-50 oz per ton (oz/tonne). However, as the world continued to consume greater amounts of silver over the next century, average yields in its primary silver mining industry fell precipitously.
Fresnillo Mine Average Yield Fell To Lowest Level Ever
Fresnillo LLC has several mines in production. Their flagship operation, is the Fresnillo Mine. In 2005, the Fresnillo Mine was producing silver at an average yield of 15.2 oz/t, but this fell 57% over the following decade. In 2015, Fresnillo’s average silver yield was a paltry 6.5 oz/t…. a loss of 8.7 oz/t:
Not only did the Fresnillo Mine average yield fall considerably over the past five years, silver production fell by more than half. In 2010, the Fresnillo Mine produced 35.9 million oz (Moz) of silver at an average yield of 14.2 oz/t. However, silver production from the mine fell to 15.6 Moz while the average yield dropped to 6.5 oz/t.
Now, the downside to falling silver yields is the increased cost of production. For example in 2010, Fresnillo processed 2.5 million tonnes of ore to produce that 35.9 Moz versus processing 2.4 million tonnes of ore in 2015 to extract 15.6 Moz of silver from the mine. Basically, the amount of processed ore remained about the same (close to it), while silver production fell by 56%.
The company realized the ore grades at its flagship Fresnillo Mine were going to fall, so they have been spending a lot of capital to bring on new primary silver mines. The company’s second primary silver mine that came on production in 2009 was its Saucito Mine. Ramp up of production of its Saucito Mine helped to offset losses from the Fresnillo Mine. However, the average yield of these two primary silver mines also declined in 2015.
The Fresnillo & Saucito Mine’s Combined Average Yield Fell In 2015
This next chart shows the combined production of the Fresnillo and Saucito Mine along with their average yield. As we can see the average yield of these two mines was 14.2 oz/t in 2009, but this declined to 7.9 oz/t in 2015:
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