Home American fashion company Mining Millennial hopes to build Mexico’s next major silver producer

Mining Millennial hopes to build Mexico’s next major silver producer


Michael Konnert. (Image courtesy of Vizsla Silver).

“I have spent years traveling the world looking for the right project. And then an old friend introduced us to the Panuco neighborhood, and we knew we had to have it, ”Konnert told MINING.COM. “He ticked all the boxes. It was huge, there was high grade silver and it could go into production very quickly. We have therefore decided to do everything possible to acquire the project.

After spending an entire year traveling back and forth between Sinaloa and Mexico City, Vizsla’s CEO and his team managed to secure a $ 43 million deal with landlord families in the district.

“Many mining groups have tried to take care of these families, but we are still the only group that is successful in doing so,” he said. “Panuco has been producing silver since its discovery in the 1500s, but it is only now that it is consolidated by Vizsla Silver. There is an old saying that Mexico’s silver camps are no longer discovered, they are consolidated. I was confident that if we consolidated the project we would be able to find new discoveries of high grade silver in this old camp.

MDC: You said Vizsla is on its way to becoming Mexico’s next big silver producer. What evidence supports this claim?

Konnert: Panuco District compares very favorably in size and scale with San Dimas, which is 80 kilometers away and has been a major commercial producer of silver and gold for almost 100 years. It even belonged to the Hearst family at the turn of the century.

Our major discoveries in Napoleon and Tajitos, in the western part of the district, very quickly evolve into resources, which we will then move on to studies. The two veins combined have a longitudinal length of over 2,700 meters in a panel of mineralization. So far we have drilled to a depth of 450 meters and the mineralization shows no signs of stopping. It is very exciting and can provide the first years of production for the district. This is less than 5% of the known veins in the area. There are over 80 kilometers of largely undrilled and underexplored veins that run through the property.

On top of that, as we are successful in our exploration, we can move to production faster than our peers as we have existing production infrastructure on site, including a historic mill, 30 kilometers of underground works, roads, electricity, water and a local workforce.

MDC: What does it mean to develop a project at the scale of a district from an operational point of view?

Konnert: We have 10 rotating rigs and one of the largest exploration programs in the world. This is a major undertaking. and more specifically, it means that you have to be very organized and coordinated. But for me, personally, that means I have a team of world-class professionals in Mexico and Canada.

Our technical team is led by Martin Dupuis in Canada and his experience is gained with the largest silver and gold operations in Mexico, including Pan American’s Dolores mine.

In Mexico we have a team of people who have worked with Agnico Eagle, Capstone, Yamana and other large companies and are applying their experience to our project.

MDC: Vizsla aims to make a first resource estimate during the first quarter of 2022. What are your next steps?

Konnert: Vizsla has made incredible progress over the past year. From discovery to the first resource in less than 18 months, it’s very impressive. We still have a lot of work to do to explore the district for more and more money, as the current resource area is less than 5% of known veins.

But this resource gives us the possibility of moving to production by carrying out economic studies on the mineralization that we have. We will move this file forward very quickly.

MDC: You said that as mining millennials, paying attention to ESG issues is essential in the functioning of your businesses. How does Vizsla approach ESG in the Panuco project?

Konnert: My opinion on ESG is perhaps a little different from the others. I believe a lot of the last generation of miners must have used ESG and paved the way for modern ESG. Mining always had to have community buy-in, and a mine would generally benefit surrounding communities. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but I think that’s true for most businesses over the past 20-30 years.

But my take on ESG is that companies need to align with the communities in which they operate. In my opinion, Canadian companies in Mexico are there as guests of the communities we work in, and we need to be respectful and find ways to create shared value and shared benefit from discovery and production.

In the case of Vizsla, we have an impact on several communities. I am proud to say that for over two years now we have employed over 75% of our workforce in local communities and 90% of our team in the country are from Mexico. We spend over $ 20 million a year on exploration and that directly benefits communities. As we move into production, we will hire and train communities and implement safety protocols that did not exist for current underground mines in the area.

Of course, all our activities are authorized and carried out with the aim of improving the local environment as we find it.

MDC: Companies operating in Mexico must navigate a complex socio-political environment where corrupt authorities and illegal groups can even intermingle. How do you fulfill your commitment to the “good business” in a place like Sinaloa?

Konnert: Vizsla operates as a guest of the country of Mexico, the state of Sinaloa and the communities in which we work. As such, it is our responsibility to operate in an honest and transparent manner.

I have discovered in my career that the best opportunities exist between perception and reality. In the case of Mexico and Sinaloa, we have found a vibrant, hardworking and honest community that we fit in well and that we can create shared benefits for, which in my opinion is somewhat different from historical perceptions.

As a Canadian company, Vizsla is an ambassador of Canadian values ​​and industry standards in all aspects of our operations. In doing so, we hope to inspire other Canadian companies with operations abroad to do the same.