OSCAR GONZÁLEZ ROCHA

Mexico 2020 | MINING | INTERVIEW

Mexico's mining potential has not been lost on Americas Mining Corporation, which plans to open a new copper mining project in El Pilar in 2020, with an estimated production of 30,000 tons.

Oscar González Rocha
BIOGRAPHY

Oscar González Rocha was included in the American Mining Hall of Fame in Tucson, Arizona, in 2016 and in the Mexican Mining Hall of Fame in October 2017. He is a civil engineer with a degree from UNAM and is CEO and President of Southern Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of Americas Mining Corporation within Grupo Mexico.

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 the US 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 as 2019. We have three investments in Mexico. One of those will be Buenavista Zinc, where we found zinc inside copper. This material needs to be processed in a new concentrator, which will increase production and total income in our underground mines in Mexico. The construction of the new concentrator is due to start 2020 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 turning a project in Ecuador into a copper mine. We have not made a final decision; however, we need to evaluate the long-term benefits, as this important investment could add a lot to our company. At the moment, we are exploring possibilities and trying to prove it will be a substantial project.

How will COVID-19 impact your production and performance in 2020?
We cannot deny the fact this global pandemic is affecting our sector, but Americas Mining Corporation, on the other hand, already sold 80-85% of its production to Chinese companies in October 2019. The only inconvenience we have encountered is the change of distribution dates, as some companies are suggesting that we do not send the product according to the previous timelines already set up. Apart from that, COVID-19 has not been a huge problem, since we have already signed the contracts. We will send our production following a different timeline than expected, and we hope it will not cause any further problems.

What does the mining industry in Mexico need to become more competitive?
We already consider Mexico to be 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 the over 1 million tons we produced in 2019. Out of our total production, 60% comes from Mexico and 40% comes from Peru. Currently, we have three pending projects in Peru: Tía María, Los Chancas, and Michiquillay, all with different starting dates. In Mexico, we have the Buenavista mine, which is centered on 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. 6