Roque Benavides: “The San Gabriel, Río Seco and Yumpag mining projects will receive their permits very quickly [tras los anuncios del Gobierno]” | Interview | Perumin | mining | Investment | Ministry of Economy and Finance | MEF | economy

El Comercio spoke to verify the veracity of this report Roque Benavides, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Peruvian company.

read more: The rigmarole of mining permits

The government has announced the lifting of the moratorium on nine mining projects, three of which are related to Buenaventura.

That’s right: Yumback, San Gabriel and (the plant in it) Rio Seco.

Is it true that these programs are banned?

In particular, we note that at the scale of Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) A very dynamic planning permission office. I congratulate you Minister of Economy and Finance [Alex Contreras] Because it has set up an opening office. We need more investment and more production because any economy is based on that. So, what MEF considered leadership looks very positive to me.

The Rio Seco plant was one of the blocked projects. What’s the problem there?

Those are the permits we have to ask for but they take months. [en conseguir]. What’s going to happen is they’re going to give us operational authorizations very quickly.

When will they start production at Rio Seco?

A dry river It has two levels. One is the study of the copper arsenical, and the other is the treatment of the mineral from us Uchuchagua is mine (limestone). What we need to do in this case is extract the silver from the manganese to produce manganese sulfate, which is used in agriculture. There are no major issues with this, but permits are required due to mining shutdown (from October 2021). So, it’s going to come out very quickly now. The copper plant is also progressing and we are getting support from the government.

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Buenaventura plans to expand its industrial plant in Rio Seco (Hural), which processes Yumpag ore. (Photo: SNMPE)

“I congratulate the Minister of Economy and Finance because he has set up a settlement office. We need more investment and more production because any economy is based on that”

Is Rio Seco going to encourage the development of Yumpag, one of the projects banned by the government?

Of course yes, because of the problem flat Its mineral content is higher in manganese than that of Uchuchagua. But Yumpag is not possible if we don’t start Manganese leaching plant From Rio Seco. This plant grows, but without producing pollutants. There is no waste, so what little gypsum is available is trucked to the Uchuchagua tailings field.

– When is production planned to start at Yumpag?

We hope to have it in production by the end of next year. Yumbag is a continuation of the Uchuchagua mine. If we understand that a site is a group (geographic continuum), then we don’t need to ask for permission for anything, because the problem is that Yumbac is located in Cerro de Pasco, but Uchuchagua is in Lima.

Does the site consist of two parts?

Nature does not respect political divisions. It’s the same site. So hopefully it will go into production very soon.

How much money is Yumpag going to make?

The Yumpag ore will be processed at the Uchucchacua plant, and between the two mines, we hope to re-produce 6 to 7 million ounces of silver per year.

Is that production higher or lower than in the past?

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Today we have resumed operations in Uchuchagua, and of course, it is more than what we have produced in the last two or three years since we stopped.

Buenaventura is developing the Yumback Silver Project, which will extend the useful life of the Uchuchagua mine.  (Photo. GECI)

Buenaventura is developing the Yumback Silver Project, which will extend the useful life of the Uchuchagua mine. (Photo. GECI)

Speaking of money, Peru has been fighting for the top spot in world production with Mexico.

Now Mexico will be in the first place and China In a moment.

If so, will Yumbag allow Peru to return to second or first place?

The thing is, these comparisons depend not only on us, but also on the production of other countries. Hard to say. But the truth is that gold is manufactured [en el Perú] Yes, it has decreased a lot.

Peru was always in the top five or six positions globally. Now we are down.

We forget that 2005 was the peak of gold production Yanacocha 3.3 million oz were produced. We never achieved that level of production again.

Speaking of Yanacocha, Buenaventura sold its stake to Newmont a year and a half ago for US$400 million. From a distance, is it a good idea?

Each person, with their reality, as I always say. We had to pay off the debt Circumcision, which we considered completely unfair, but we had to pay. And there was an opportunity to sell our stake in Yanacocha, an investment of US$2,000 million to US$3,000 million that we didn’t have. So congratulations friends Newmont That they were very successful in the development of the Sulfuros Yanacocha project.

Buenaventura is building San Gabriel, another project banned by the government. What doesn’t it go into production?

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We are under construction and hope to finish in late 2024 or early 2025. We have also received support from the government as citizen workshops have been repeatedly postponed. Now we are moving fast. I would say we have almost all clearances.

Roque Benavides estimates that the construction of the San Gabriel project should be completed by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.

Roque Benavides estimates that the construction of the San Gabriel project should be completed by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.

If so, will the two new mines, Yumbach and San Gabriel, be on production in 2024?

And Uchuchagua is back in production. But it’s a process. We have sold some mines, developed some, developed some. We are going to shift our production towards copper La Zanja and Tantahude. This is a dynamic question and not static.

Buenaventura now owns 100% of La Zanja. How do they progress there?

We have very important deposits, deep copper resources and pure copper [de impurezas]. And in Tantahuatay we have a large copper deposit, although not as a Yanacocha. But it’s the same type of deposit: gold oxides at the surface with copper sulfides at depth.

Finally, by 2026, Wood Mackenzie estimates that Peru will lose second place in copper production to Congo. What do you think about this?

It could be, but I don’t think it matters. Peru to double copper production Congo soon. Instead, we must compete Chile. I want to make Peru the number one producer of copper.

What is the biggest problem hindering the development of projects: social conflict or paperwork?

I’d say the lack of dialogue that some social conflict can create is paperwork and who knows. And since conflicts do not occur only between a corporation and society, the state is absent to mediate. Where is the state? Or are there no laws in Peru? Absence of state is conspicuous. We always say that God is Peruvian, but His offices are in Lima, and that cannot go on.

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