Mexico’s Mining Sector Turns to Desalination

20 Jul 2015
Available with corporate subscription

On 26 June 2015, Chesapeake Gold announced plans to develop a 55,000 m3/d desalination project to supply its proposed Metates gold and silver mine in Durango state, Mexico. Chesapeake is pursuing BOO or BOOT contract options for the plant aimed for commissioning in 2020. The project timeline is largely dependent on a rebound in commodity prices. Gold and silver prices are currently down 13% and 29% over the past year, respectively.

The Metates project adds to Mexico’s largescale seawater desalination pipeline now totaling more than 607,000 m3 /d. El Boleo copper mine in Baja California is the only Mexican mine utilizing desalinated water for its operations — three plants with a combined capacity of 5,300 m3/d. Mexico’s mining sector uses 4.3 million m3/d of water annually, approximately 3.0% of the country’s total supplies and just under half of industrial usage.

Bluefield Takeaways

  • Healthy number of bidders underlines project attractiveness, tight competition among existing players
  • Rising water prices strengthen call for desalination
  • Chesapeake preps for overarching water constraints