What methods did the company use to finally break its production benchmark of 1 million tons of copper in 2019 for the first time?
There will always be potential for mining growth in Mexico, Peru, and the US. We have seven open-pit mines: two in Mexico, two in Peru, and three in Arizona. Our production in 2019 was, for the first time, over 1 million tons of copper; due to the completed expansion of the second concentrator in Toquepala. This added expansion allowed us to increase our production by 100,000 tons; leading to a grand total of over 1 million tons.
What are your expectations for production in 2020?
We have about the same expectations. We have three investments in Mexico, one of those will be Buenavista Zinc, we found zinc inside copper, this material needs to be process in a new concentrator. That will increase production and total income in our underground mines in Mexico. The construction of the new concentrator is due to start this year and is expected to be completed in two years with an investment of approximately USD480 million.
Are you still contemplating entering new markets such as Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile?
We are exploring market opportunities in the mining sector in three other countries. We are currently exploring the opportunity of a copper mining project in Ecuador. We have not taken a final decision, however, and we need to evaluate the long-term benefits this important investment could add to our company. At the moment, we are exploring possibilities, and trying to prove if it will be a substantial project.
How will COVID-19 impact your production and performance in 2020?
We cannot deny the fact that this global pandemic is affecting our sector, but Americas Mining Corporation already sold 80-85% of our production to Chinese companies in October 2019. The only inconvenience we have encountered is the change of distribution dates because some companies are suggesting that we do not send shipments according to the timing we had already set up. Apart from that, it has not been a problem, since we already signed the contracts. We will send our production following a different timing than we expected, and we hope it will not cause any further problems.
What does the mining industry in Mexico need to become more competitive?
We consider Mexico already competitive. We are achieving higher production levels in Mexico compared to Peru, mainly in Buenavista del Cobre. Moreover, due to the addition of a new concentrator, we were able to increase our production by more than 100,000 tons of copper. This addition helped us achieve over 1 million tons we produced in 2019. Out of our total production, 60% comes from Mexico, and 40% comes from Peru. Nevertheless, we have three pending projects in Peru: Tía María, Los Chancas, and Michiquillay. They have different dates. In Mexico, we have the Buenavista mine, which is centered in zinc extraction. Furthermore, we have an upcoming small mine project, El Pilar, in Mexico, which is expected to produce 30,000 tons of copper. El Pilar project will start in 2020 and will take at least 1.5 years to produce the amount of copper we expect.