It is no wonder that Zacatecas is one of the world’s top silver districts. At its core, Saucito is certainly one of the state’s and Fresnillo’s most important assets, with a mining capacity of 2.6 million t/y and an average ore grade of 261g/t of silver and 1.39g/t of gold.
Currently under expansion, Fresnillo describes Saucito as a critical operation for achieving its 2018 production target of 65 million ounces of silver. In 2017, Saucito contributed 36 percent of the company’s total silver production and generated 22.6 percent of its total adjusted revenue.
Saucito is located at the heart of Zacatecas Silver District, only 8km southwest of the Fresnillo mine. Primarily silver and gold, the asset is composed of an underground mine and a flotation plant. Going back to the history of the operation, Fresnillo started its drilling campaign back in 2004. As results proved enticing, construction began in 2009, with commercial production commencing in 2011. The asset employs 763 people and relies on more than 1,824 contractors.
With an expected mine life of 5.8 years, the performance highlights for 2Q18 find a quarterly and year-to-date 7.7 percent and 7 percent decrease, respectively, in silver production due to lower ore grades and increased dilution. However, Fresnillo pursued a strategy of increasing the volume of ore processed and ramped up production in 2Q18 by 8.3 percent compared to 1Q18. The FY18 ore grade is expected to be 255-265g/t.
But while silver suffered a temporary setback, gold is shining, with 2Q18 production jumping 44.1 percent compared to 1Q18 and 35.7 percent from 1H17 to 1H18. The 2018 performance targets focus on further reducing dilution, developing the Huizache veins, ramping up the pyrites plant and initiating the deepening of the Jarillas shaft.
In 2017, adjusted revenue from Saucito contributed US$504.2 million to Fresnillo’s overall income, a 4.5 percent increase compared to FY16. CAPEX for FY17 totaled US$133.7 million with US$26.1 million in exploration expenses. The mine’s 2017 production yielded 21.2 million ounces of silver, 69,948 ounces of gold, 17,714 tons of lead and 20,348 tons of zinc.