Argentina

Pirquitas Mine

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Overview

Mine TypeOpen Pit
StatusClosing / Closed
Commodities
  • Silver
  • Zinc
  • Lead
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
Production Start... Lock
SnapshotThe Puna property comprises the Chinchillas property and the Pirquitas property.

Pirquitas is a permitted commercial mine and processing facility, operated by SSR Mining since December 2009, with infrastructure that includes a processing plant, a tailings facility, a fully serviced workers camp sufficient for approximately 670 personnel, a communications system including cellular and intranet access, office buildings, wastewater treatment facilities, organic waste landfill, and recycling center.

The Pirquitas mine was formally inaugurated in April 2009, with commercial production starting in December of that year. Mining was completed in mid-January 2017.

Currently, ore from the Chinchillas mine is transported to the Pirquitas plant for processing.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
SSR Mining Inc. 100 % Indirect
Mina Pirquitas S. A. (operator) 100 % Direct
The Puna Project comprises the Chinchillas and Pirquitas properties. Puna is directly owned (100%) by SSR through a subsidiary company Puna Operations Inc. (POI) which through other 100% owned subsidiaries own Mina Pirquitas S.A. (MPSA). MPSA operates the Project.

Deposit type

  • Epithermal
  • Vein / narrow vein
  • Breccia pipe / Stockwork

Summary:

The Pirquitas deposit is an example of the Ag Sn sub-group of the epithermal class of mineral deposits (Panteleyev, 1996). Also known as Bolivian-type polymetallic deposits, examples of this deposit type are numerous in the Bolivian Silver -Tin Belt that extends between the San Rafael Sn(-Cu) deposit in southern Peru and the Pirquitas deposit in northwestern Argentina.

Bolivian-type Ag-Sn deposits generally consist of sulphide and quartz-sulphide vein systems typically containing cassiterite and a diverse suite of base and trace metals, including Ag in a complex assemblage of sulphide and sulfosalt minerals. The vein systems are generally spatially and likely genetically associated with epizonal (subvolcanic) quartz-bearing peraluminous intrusions one to two kilometres in diameter, although the mineralization may be entirely hosted by the country rocks into which the intrusive stocks were emplaced.

The suite of principal and subordinate ore minerals that characterize this deposit type includes, but is not limited to, pyrite, cassiterite, pyrrhotite, marcasite;,sphalerite, galena, chalcopyrite, stannite, arsenopyrite, tetrahedrite, scheelite, wolframite, andorite, jamesonite, boulangerite, ruby silver (pyrargyrite), stibnite, bismuthinite, native bismuth, molybdenite, argentite, gold and a variety of complex sulfosalt minerals. Metal zoning from depth to surface and from centers outward shows: Sn + W, Cu + Zn, Pb + Zn, Pb + Ag, and Ag ± Au; commonly there is considerable ‘telescoping’ of zones. Oxidized zones may have secondary silver minerals such as Ag halides.

Quartz and sericite are the main gangue minerals, with tourmaline appearing at deeper levels and kaolinite + chalcedony commonly present close to surface. Quartz-sericite pyrite alteration is characteristic of these deposits; it is pervasively developed in certain lithologies and restricted to narrow vein halos in rocks that are less susceptible to reactions with the hydrothermal fluids.

Sn-Ag vein deposits are believed to be the source of cassiterite that has been mined from placer deposits around the world, and the lodes themselves are extensively mined in South America, particularly Bolivia. At present, the San Rafael deposit in southern Peru is the world’s largest and richest underground tin mine, while the Pirquitas deposit is Argentina’s largest silver mine.

The fracture and breccia-hosted mineralization at the Pirquitas Mine consists of Fe and Zn sulphides with accessory cassiterite (Sn oxide) and a large variety of Ag-Sn-Zn (-Pb-Sb-As-Cu Bi) sulphides and sulfosalts. Crystalline quartz, along with chalcedony in the upper levels of the system, and kaolinite are the main gangue minerals in the veins and mineralized breccias. The main sulphides, specifically pyrite, pyrrhotite, sphalerite and wurtzite, form colloform bands parallel to vein margins, which together with crustiform and drusy vein textures suggest that the mineralization is epithermal in origin.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Processing

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Production

CommodityUnits201720162015
Zinc k lbs 9,452
All production numbers are expressed as metal in concentrate.

Operational metrics

Metrics201720162015
Tonnes milled 1,798 kt1,774 kt1,557 kt
Daily milling rate 4,846 t
Daily milling capacity 5,000 t5,000 t
Stripping / waste ratio 2.2 3.2
Ore tonnes mined 2,825 kt
Waste 6,317 kt9,090 kt
Total tonnes mined 9,142 kt11,900 kt
Daily mining rate 36,000 t

Production Costs

CommodityUnits2017
Cash costs (sold) Silver USD 13.1 / oz **  
All-in sustaining costs (sold) Silver USD 14.3 / oz **  
** Net of By-Product.

Operating Costs

Currency2016
OP mining costs ($/t mined) USD 3.69  

Financials

Units2017
Sustaining costs M USD 4.6  
Revenue M USD 89.6  
Operating Income M USD

Heavy Mobile Equipment

Fleet data has not been reported.

Personnel

Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Mar 11, 2024
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Aerial view:

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