Mexico is the world's largest silver producer. Silver is produced both as primary silver and as a by-product of gold and base metal operations. In 2010, Mexican silver mine production accounted for 128.6 million ounces, a 13% increase over the previous year. The major production states are Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, Guanahuato and Querétaro. In 2009, the Fresnillo mine in Zacatecas ranked as the world's largest primary silver mine (35.4 Moz Ag). Other important mines are IMMSA (6.8 Moz Ag), Alamo Dorado (5.3 Moz Ag) and San Dimas (5.1 Moz Ag). The main silver producing companies are Fresnillo Plc (the world’s largest primary silver producer and Mexico’s second largest gold producer), Industrias Peñoles, Grupo Mexico and Goldcorp. One trend in the Mexican Silver industry is the growth of smaller silver producers. The activities of this new breed of junior developers and producers may be more modest than Fresnillo, but nonetheless they are becoming significant players in the silver market and represent and interesting asset class for investors wanting to invest in pure silver companies.
The majority of gold production comes from mines where gold is obtained as a co-product (silver and copper-gold mines) and by-product (polymetallic deposits). Sonora, Durango and Chihuahua produce the majority. The country’s largest gold mine is La Herradura (produced 260 koz Au in 2009) located on the Gulf of Cortez in the state of Sonora followed by Los Filos located in the Nukay mining district of central Guerrero State in southern Mexico.. In 2010 Mexico produced 68 tonnes of gold, which represents a 11% increase over the previous year. Several projects are scheduled to be completed shortly or have already commenced commercial production so the figures will see an increase in 2011 and 20127. Amongst the companies that play a significant role in gold production are Fresnillo and Goldcorp. Many new smaller companies have or are currently opening production in Mexico.
These operations involve open pit mining plans often with heap leach processing in the northern States of the country within the mountain range known as the Sierra Madre.