What strategies did you use to reach record-breaking achievements?
Our results have been extraordinary. In 2019, we delivered 450,000 ounces of gold, which was a 30% increase over the year prior, and we also reduced lost time injuries by 30%. We also had an extraordinary year last year despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, and in November 2020 celebrated 10 million hours worked without lost-time injury. We credit our achievements, in large part, to the strong workplace culture we have methodically built over many years, where employees want to willingly come to work and give the best they have. It is based on a framework called Systems Leadership, which is a series of interconnected models that provide the three tools of leadership: systems, symbols, and behaviors. When those come together, you can develop a culture that is capable of delivering extraordinary results. The foundation of that model is our values continuum; we are a value-centric company. We have had the same universal values since we started operating, and they will always remain the same. Another thing we have to support our success is tight operational systems. We introduced a business process framework around planning, scheduling, and executing work, because planned work is safer work. We also have a clear set of rules that make sense to people and are enforceable. Finally, we are deliberate about reminding people of their reasons to work safely; in Mexican culture, that is heavily tied to relationships and families. Operational discipline around those systems has served us to deliver extraordinary results in terms of production safety and costs.
Can you tell us about the next steps the company is taking in the Media Luna project?
We are working hard on four key areas in 2021. One is finishing the Feasibility Study, which will be completed by the end of 1Q2022. The second area is to complete our 2021 infill drill campaign, which is a total of 83,000m. The third area we are working on is to execute the early works required to access the Media Luna deposit—both from the north and south sides. Media Luna is a deposit that is 7km away and across a river from our existing infrastructure at our El Limón Guajes (ELG) operations. To access the deposit from the North side at ELG, we have started building a tunnel that will extend under the river, which will allow us to transport the ore to our existing processing plant and use our existing infrastructure, which is critical in terms of efficiency. And finally, we are working on our permit plan. Earlier in 2021, we received our Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA) modification, an important permit that allowed us to start construction on the south side of the river. In July, we submitted the MIA Integral, the major permit that combines environmental impacts for the entire site, and now we are in productive dialogue with the regulators to advance that permit.
What innovations have you implemented at your operations?
Torex has always had innovation woven into its fabric, and it has driven better safety, environmental, and economic performance. For example, we use ROPECON, an innovative 1.3-km automated conveyor system that brings ore from the top of the mountain over a 400-m vertical drop to our process plant. It also produces almost all the energy it consumes, reduces dust and diesel emissions, and saves money. There are few mines in the world that use this method. We have also built what's called a SART Plant, which allows us to remove copper from our ore and produce a saleable by-product, while at the same time reducing cyanide consumption. In 2020, we signed a contract for an 8.5-MW solar plant that will generate clean electricity and reduce our reliance on the Mexican grid, and help us save USD20 million in energy over the next 20 years. We can also leave it behind for the community when we are done.