* Expects zinc demand to be steady in '13
* Smelters seen obtaining higher treatment charges this year
By Silvia Antonioli
CANCUN, Mexico, Feb 25 Mexican mining and
infrastructure giant Grupo Mexico is considering
investing in a second zinc smelter to be built in Northern
Mexico, a company executive said.
"We are doing a strategic analysis based on zinc refining,
because we believe that the zinc concentrate market, in the long
term, is going to be very tough. We are considering building a
zinc refinery in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico," said Xavier Garcia de
Quevedo, the company's executive president, interviewed on the
sidelines of the annual IZA zinc conference.
"We want to be able to process all of our concentrate...You
can't produce just a commodity. If you differentiate, you have
more chances of success," he said late on Sunday.
Grupo Mexico runs mines in Mexico, Peru and the United
States, including the Buenavista mine in northern Mexico, one of
world's largest copper mines.
The company, which plans to increase investment 65 percent
this year, to $3.5 billion in 2013, $2 billion of which in its
mining division, already owns a zinc refinery, in central
Mexico, with capacity of about 110,000 tonnes.
If the company decides to go ahead, the new refinery will be
built within the next five years and will double the company
refined zinc capacity.
Talking about zinc treatment charges, fees paid by miners to
smelters to process concentrate into metal, de Quevedo said he
expected better terms for smelters this year due to the heavy
oversupply in zinc concentrates.
For example, in the last spot deal the company had to pay 10
percent more that the 2011 benchmark of $191 per tonne.
The miner, which supplies zinc concentrates mainly to
Mexico, the United States, Brazil and Europe, sees stable demand
in 2013, compared with 2012.