Our strategy is to grow sustainably through the of zinc and copper exploration in the Americas, ensuring the long-term value creation, with the allocation of ideal capital through five growth avenues: extending the life of mines, brownfield projects, greenfield projects, exploration of new areas and development of new businesses.
Our strategic objectives for the Growth axis, by 2025, are to increase our annual production of zinc equivalent to 1.3 million tonnes, maintain our reserves economically viable and achieve 100% integration between our mining and smelting operations. To this end, we allocated resources in the order of US$ 410 million in Capex in 2019.
Our projects are developed in an intelligent manner; that is, lower costs, more agility, minimum deviations from the plan and maximized returns. We have projects in different phases of Front-End Loading (FEL) feasibility assessment, which evolved in 2019 according to plan: Magistral, Shalipayco and Pukaqaqa (Peru); Caçapava do Sul and Aripuanã (Brazil). Aripuanã, our main current project, is already under construction. This makes it possible for us, in terms of prospecting, to direct more resources to other projects, such as Magistral and Pukaqaqa.
Greenfield projects in development
Aripuanã – a polymetallic mine located in the state of Mato Grosso, is considered one of the world’s largest zinc projects. This integrated underground mine’s operation is expected to produce 2.3 million tonnes of crude ore per year (especially zinc, lead and copper) – with production of 120 thousand tonnes of zinc equivalent. The expected useful life is at least 13 years, considering just the known reserves, with the possibility of extension for another six years. This is our main project for the coming years and a milestone in mining, due to its potential and the challenges involved. Its construction started in 2019, reaching 32% of the total investment and 28% of physical progress at the end of the year.
Magistral – Located in the Ancash region of Peru, the project aims to develop an open pit copper mine. In 2019, approximately US$ 12 million was spent, focusing on completing the pre-feasibility (FEL 2) and feasibility (FEL 3) studies. We also reviewed our investment schedule with the Peruvian government in order to optimize the project’s facilities. An average annual production of 40 thousand tonnes of copper contained in concentrate, 3 thousand tonnes of molybdenum and 600 thousand ounces of silver (17 tonnes) over the 16 years of estimated useful life is expected, with operations scheduled for startup in the first quarter of 2024.
Pukaqaqa – The project contemplates the development of an open pit mine for extraction of copper, molybdenum, silver and gold located in the Huancavelica region, about 400 kilometers south of Lima (Peru). The study is in the pre-feasibility phase (FEL 2). New smelting tests will be conducted in 2020 to prove the feasibility of reusing waste and transforming it into a new product.
Shalipayco – A joint venture between Nexa Peru (75%) and Pan American Silver Peru (25%) to exploit potential underground zinc, lead and silver mines in the Junín region, in the central Andes of Peru. In 2019, we invested approximately US$ 600 thousand in the project, focused on exploration activities, geological studies, environmental and social issues.
Caçapava do Sul – A polymetallic project involving copper, lead and zinc located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, about 250 kilometers from the Port of Rio Grande. The resources can be exploited through both open pit mining and subsoil processes concomitantly. The research program in 2019 aimed to detail copper resources, with an expenditure of approximately US$ 3 million and execution of 14.3 thousand meters of drilling in 29 holes. In 2020, activities are planned for detailing the studies already carried out and interpreting the information obtained in 2019.
Aripuanã is fundamental to the evolution of our strategy of continuing to grow our zinc and copper mining and smelting operations in the Americas. The production of zinc in Aripuanã, after its stabilization (2022-2023), will contribute to a greater integration between mines and smelters, which means that we will be able to reduce our dependence on the purchase of zinc concentrate in the market. The official event inaugurating the start of construction took place in July 2019.
In 2019, we concluded the execution of the tunnel for the Link underground mine ramp, following the Arex underground mine ramp and continued to make progress regarding the project’s infrastructure, in line with the approved plan. This allowed for the construction of the lifting well for the ventilation system, the mobilization of the new supplier contracted to resume the development of the exploration tunnel in the Link mineralized zone, the drilling of the Arex well as part of the production plan, and the commissioning plan to supply provisional power.
We proceeded with the construction of temporary buildings and settlement and earthworks areas for the mine’s waste stock. Earthworks have also continued to progress, mainly regarding access roads, water dam, processing plant and waste ore stock. In addition, we started the construction of the 69kV transmission line and the connection compartment in the Dardanelos substation.
In October, we concluded the acquisition of Karmin Exploration Inc. in the amount of US$ 71 million, which previously indirectly held a 30% interest in the Aripuanã project, assuming 100% of the unit’s control.
We invested US$ 124 million in 2019 to develop Aripuanã, excluding the purchase of Karmin’s stake, equivalent to 32% of the US$ 392 million foreseen for the project, and we estimate an investment of approximately US$ 220 million in 2020, with residual investments to be made upon the startup of production in 20211.
Technology and operational excellence
We seek to incorporate the most modern technology and operational excellence into the Aripuanã Project, as well as a sustainability vision in all processes. Some examples are the goal of 100% water reutilization, the construction of a dry tailings deposit and focus on the co-creation of a legacy for the community.
■ Dry waste disposal – A new process for filtering, drying, handling and disposing of dry waste in piles protected by layers of geomembranes reduces risks and environmental impacts.
■ Use of constructed wetlands – With this system, there will be controlled return of treated water to the receiving bodies, as well as in the treatment of effluent water from the processing plant, with 100% recirculation of the treated water in the process and zero disposal into the environment.
■ High degree of automation – Better safety levels, operational stability, cost savings and increased productivity.
Preservation of flora and fauna
Implemented through the Aripuanã Project’s Environmental Control Plan, our seedling nursery develops actions to rescue, maintain, reintroduce, monitor and produce seedlings for subsequent planting of vegetation reconstitution or enrichment in areas to be preserved. In 2019, more than 30 thousand seedlings were cultivated with the participation of local residents, generating employment and income in the region. There is also a concern for the safety of fauna in the area where the project is being built. Professionals were trained to rescue animals, who are sent to a veterinary care room at the Provisional Reception Center for Rescued Fauna. Since the beginning of the construction of the project, 667 animals have been rescued, including reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.
Through a partnership with the Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial – Senai-MT (National Industrial Training Service), the old Elídio Murcelli Filho School was completely renovated, allowing us to begin offering the Professional Qualification Program. This program and the other short-duration courses aim to train young people and adults from Aripuanã and the region for the job market in general. In 2019, 340 students started classes. In 2020, there will be 175 more, totaling 515 professionals trained by the program by 2021.
During the year, we carried out a selection process to fill the 515 vacancies offered, of which 54% went to women. This result represents the first step towards the goal of having women represent 50% of the labor force during the operational phase of the future Aripuanã unit.
We intend to fill our staff with 65% of local employees, primarily students graduated from the Senai-MT Professional Qualification Program, with the remaining 35% from other parts of the country, filling positions that require specific technical knowledge.
The Integrated Socioeconomics Plan of the Aripuanã Project is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its topics and in the purpose of uniting the sectors, collaborating to achieve shared goals, aiming to minimize impacts and boost positive development in the region.
1 As of the date of this report publication, construction activities at the project have not yet been affected. Additional safety measures and procedures are being discussed with our contractors to mitigate any potential impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak, including a revision to the construction schedule.
Community solutions of Aripuanã
In 2019, we made progress in building solutions for community health and safety on two fronts:
Health support and epidemiological surveillance – This front includes training for the management of health services; expansion of coverage in the Conselvan district; budgets and partnerships under negotiation for the renovation and acquisition of equipment in the Basic Health Units (UBS) and emergency rooms; accreditation and training of local medical teams; improvement in specialized care; preparation of the epidemiological surveillance plan; and donation of vehicles for use by the teams (1 panel truck, 1 pickup, 8 motorcycles, 6 bicycles and 2 boats). We guarantee the voluntary transfer of US$ 1 million to the Secretary of Health of Aripuanã, as provided for in the cooperation agreement signed with the city. The amount is intended for the maintenance of four doctors and the purchase of supplies, such as medicines and items for hospital use.
Strengthening the health and prevention system – We are involved in the diagnosis of the current situation and possible monitoring of long-term improvements, strengthening of public health policies and the search for shared solutions, in addition to improving primary care quality.
Housing – In addition to the qualification courses that aim to develop people for the job market and so that we can employ 65% of local and regional labor, we are building 200 new houses that will be inhabited by employees hired outside Aripuanã, as an item in the benefits package offered. The construction of new residences aims to mitigate local real estate speculation.
Migrants, vulnerable publics and public management – In 2019, we continued the program to strengthen the network for the protection of the rights of children and adolescents and to train community agents to act in the prevention of violations of the rights of youths and women. We promoted a project in Conselvan, one of the districts with the greatest social vulnerability, to disseminate restorative practices in education, in which we certified 32 education professionals (72% of the program’s target audience). We also inaugurated two Migrants Support Centers (CAMs), which will offer guidance and assistance to migrants, in addition to serving as a channel for dialogue with the social assistance network and other public policies in the municipality.
Entrepreneurship and local suppliers – In addition, we have also established that all our suppliers for social projects must commit to conduct their activities in accordance with our social responsibility requirements. These include guarantees about human rights, support for local development, promotion of safety and a healthy workplace, compliance with the Social Golden Rules and the 15 Community Relationship Protocol rules. In 2019, the second edition of the Opportunities Meeting was held in Cuiabá, which brought together 70 entrepreneurs, public managers, consultants, self-employed professionals and commercial representatives to learn about the project, the future demands for goods and services and our supplier management policy. In addition, we initiated the Local Entrepreneurs and Suppliers Development Program, designed to support the sustainable and integrated growth of existing production activities and new businesses.
Indigenous peoples – We aim to develop local production chains, expand the opportunities for coexistence and participation of the indigenous community and safeguard their territories and culture, avoiding the emptying of villages and loss of identity.
In order to grow sustainably, we also have implemented a strategy of extending the useful life of our mines. All our operations received funds in 2019 based on the maturity level of each unit. The projects were planned and executed according to a previously established schedule. Below are the most relevant initiatives:
In 2019, we carried out 19.9 kilometers of exploratory drilling to extend the useful life of the Vazante mine. Started in 2013, the project so far has contributed to expanding operations by 12 years; we continue to conduct research into further boosting this potential. With the deepening of the mine, the expectation is to maintain its production at 130 – 140 thousand tonnes of zinc per year.
The exploration project worked on the extension of the ore bodies of the mine, with a focus on mineral exploration of the Lumiadeira and Far North targets, as well as drilling other exploration targets, which may contain mineralization close to the known deposit.
During the year, we made progress in the excavation of ramps aimed at replenishing reserves: of the five foreseen in the project, two have already been concluded. Eight of the twelve pumps that will form the pumping station have also been delivered to lower the region’s aquifer, allowing safe ore extraction.
We continue to invest in mine development in Cerro Lindo, obtaining environmental permits to access new exploration areas and, consequently, investigate the continuity of newly found mineralized zones and extend mineral bodies, in addition to adding more resources to extend the useful life of the operation.
At the end of 2019, the exploration team drilled 107.5 kilometers of diamond soundings distributed in exploratory and infill operations. In the Orcocobre region and in the continuity of the mineralization of the OB3-4 body, we have identified the same type of ore found in the well-known mineralized bodies of the Cerro Lindo mine.
In the Pasco Complex, which includes the Atacocha and El Porvenir mines, the exploration result will allow us to add mineral resources, with the discovery of the Sara mineralized body (with a high content of silver and lead) and the confirmation of good results in the integration, thus enabling us to extend the useful life of the two operations.
We completed the lifting of the El Porvenir dam on schedule and obtained an operating license, which allows the project to continue. We also completed the pre-feasibility engineering for the raising of the Atacocha dam, fulfilling the Tailings Master Plan for Cerro Pasco. Furthermore, we started studies for the tailings pumping system from El Porvenir to Atacocha, which will mean the full integration of the two units for the disposal of waste in a sustainable manner.
In 2019, the exploration program was aimed at increasing mineral resources at specific levels in the mines. The drilling program identified mineralization along the extension of the San Gerardo, Sara, Veta 27 and Integration targets, among others, leaving them with open potential for expansion. This achievement was achieved in a total of 40.2 kilometers of diamond exploration drilling in Atacocha and 47.8 kilometers in El Porvenir.
Morro Agudo/Bonsucesso Project
This project aims to extend the life of the Morro Agudo complex. In 2019, the exploration program was aimed at intensifying diamond drilling work in the Bonsucesso project. There was an extension of the known ore bodies and also the potential for zinc and lead mineralization west of the main ore zone, with high levels of zinc and lead, doubling the volume of ore indicated and measured in the region. We expect to finish the feasibility (FEL 3) in 2020 and start construction in 2021, after the approval of environmental licenses.
New exploration areas
In order to maintain an optimized project portfolio, which allows us to operate sustainably over the years, we studied organic growth options (expansion of current operations and greenfield projects) and inorganic growth options (possible asset purchases) in Peru, Brazil and Namibia. We currently have a robust pipeline of greenfield projects in progress, from the exploratory regions to those that are in a feasibility study.
One of our main prospecting projects, Hilarión, is located in the Ancash region, 230 kilometers from Lima, Peru. It is the second largest unexplored zinc deposit in South America, according to SNL Metals & Mining 2019 data, with measured and indicated resources of 69.4 million tonnes and 37.5 million tonnes of inferred resources. Throughout 2019, we conducted 9.1 kilometers of drilling, which indicated continuity of the mineralized areas towards the El Padrino deposit and potential for expansion. We will continue geological studies and diamond drilling operations to increase the deposit’s resources and potential.
Florida Canyon is another area that is part of our survey program, in the Amazon region of Peru. More than 14 kilometers of drilling were carried out in 2019, focusing on two areas related to feeders that generated the concentration of mineralized sulfides in mantles, bodies and veins. New mineralized bodies were defined, with zinc content around 10%, representing a positive outlook for future exploration.
We continued to conduct mineral exploration work in the Aripuanã project throughout 2019. The goal is to extend the existing mineralizations and find new opportunities for the unit, such as confirming the excellent potential of the Babaçu target. The drilling campaign focused on exploring these mineralized areas of Babaçu and confirmed the presence of high-grade
ore over 1.3 kilometers in length. We drilled a total of 12.6 kilometers, confirming the previous geometry and opening the possibility of connection with the Ambrex target in depth.
In addition to these ongoing projects, mineral exploration consolidates a portfolio of areas for initial research and exploratory drilling, aiming at strategic positioning in fertile areas for the exploration of deposits and pipeline feeding, in order to boost and develop other copper and zinc projects.
Resources and reserves
We annually declare our proven and probable mineral resources and reserves in accordance with the Standards for Defining Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (2014 CIM Definition Standards) prepared by the CIM (Canadian Institute of Metallurgy and Petroleum) and incorporated by reference in National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) of all mines and projects. The Cerro Lindo, El Porvenir and Vazante Operating Units also have mineral reserves declared according to the SEC Industrial Guide 07 (IG07) from SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), in the U.S. These information are available in the Nexa 20-F Annual Report at https://ir.nexaresources.com/regulatoryfilings. According to NI 43-101, as of December 31, 2019, the total metal contained in our mineral reserves was 3,992.4 thousand tonnes of zinc, 426.6 thousand tonnes of copper, 711.6 thousand tonnes of lead, 104,966 thousand ounces of silver and 294.8 thousand ounces of gold, representing a loss of 2.4% of total reserves (by mass).
Resources and reserves 2
Note: The estimate of reserves and mineral resources involves assumptions about future commodity prices and technical mining issues. The presented Statement of Resources and Reserves follows the CIM 2014 Definition Standards (Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves).
2 The amounts shown in this table have not been adjusted to reflect our proprietary interests. The information presented in this table includes 100% of the estimates of reserves and mineral resources of our consolidated subsidiaries and our joint ventures, calculated based on the CIM 2014 definition standards, incorporated in NI 43-101, some of which are not wholly owned, as set out in the participation column available in the 6-k mining report, which can be accessed at ir.nexaresources.com/regulatoryfilings.
3 Mineral resources are reported exclusively for mineral reserves and the effective dates are described in the 6-K mining report.