What is the status of the commercial production start at Mina Justa?
Mina Justa is a project operated through our subsidiary Marcobre. We are completing the commissioning phase with some production of concentrates and cathodes, with commercial production scheduled for the end of June 2021. We have two plants to process oxides and sulphides. In the case of oxides, we are using a new production process for Peru, which is VAT leaching. Another innovative aspect is that, taking advantage of our proximity to the sea, we are using untreated seawater for the leaching process. In the case of sulphides, we have a conventional sulphide concentrator plant.
How is sea water being used at Mina Justa?
We have a sea water extraction point at our port and a pipeline that runs in parallel to our sulfuric acid line. Just a tiny portion of the water is desalinated for conventional camp water use, but the rest is untreated and used for our industrial processes. Water is pumped 41 km from the Pacific Ocean to our operation.
Can you elaborate on your initiatives to promote sustainability in the mining value chain?
As members of ICMM, we are evaluating a number of initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint as well as our consumption of strategic resources such as water. This is what initially led us to design our process to use sea water. Besides, while we currently have power contracts with conventional providers, we are looking at ways of using more sustainable and renewable energy sources.
How do you think mining companies in Peru can improve their public image?
The industry has to be aware of its impacts. For instance, Mina Justa is located between two natural reserves: San Fernando and San Juan. So, Mina Justa shows that a mining project can operate with total respect for the natural and cultural richness around it. Our footprint is totally controlled and there is no impact on the natural reserves, and indeed we collaborate with these reserves to promote tourism in the area. We also want to help public authorities to better manage the financial resources that they get from the Mining Canon (50% of the income tax paid annually) through initiatives such as public-private partnerships. With current metal prices, tax revenues will increase, but the authorities need to manage these resources efficiently to execute public works.
What are the company’s investment plans for the San Rafael mine considering the strong outlook for tin?
Minsur’s San Rafael mine continues to be the largest single tin producer in the western hemisphere. The main development there has been the B2 project for tailings re-processing that started production late 2019. The tin grade we had in our tailings was higher than the grade found in any other new project in the world, and on top of the economics, this helped us implement a circular economy project. Before B2, we had also implemented an ore sorting technology, which helped us improve production. Now, we continue exploration in some adjacent areas to San Rafael.
Once Mina Justa is fully optimized, what will it mean financially for the region of Ica and its communities?
Mina Justa has a planned production life of 16 years, and over this time it should contribute around US$1 billion if you put together income tax, royalties and the 8% profit distribution among workers. We believe this will be a meaningful contribution to the Peruvian economy.
Do you have a final message about the importance of Mina Justa to Peru?
Minsur is a mining company with a long trajectory. From being an important producer of tin and gold, we are now becoming a copper producer, and this is taking us to a different level. As members of the ICMM, we follow the best industry standards and we are commited to reducing our impact and our carbon footprint. Latin America is experiencing moments of change and a certain degree of political uncertainty, but our vision has always been for the long term, and in this particular case, the current copper price shows that our planning was right. Also, we are inspired by being able to contribute to a better world, as copper is a key metal in new technologies and renewable energies.