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Production costs in Mexico's gold mining sector edged lower in the first quarter of this year.
Cash costs across 16 of the country's main gold mines averaged about US$650/oz, down from US$682/oz in the same quarter last year, according to non-weighted figures collated by BNamericas.
Higher by-product prices and a weaker peso were among the factors pushing down costs.
Silver, lead and zinc prices increased considerably over the year. The US dollar traded mainly at 19-22 pesos, compared to 17-19 pesos in 1Q16.
Cash costs among the operations ranged from below US$100/oz to over US$1,100/oz.
LOWEST COST - sub-US$500/oz cash costs
The improvement was due to higher by-product output and prices, a weaker peso and lower sustaining capex. The mine also produces silver, lead and zinc.
Higher by-product prices were also behind a sharp drop in cash costs at Gold Resource's El Águila mine, the second lowest cost producer.
Cash costs fell to US$263/oz from US$667/oz on higher silver, copper, lead and zinc prices, and increased silver, copper and lead volumes sold.
Agnico Eagle Mines' Pinos Altos and La India operations were the other mines with sub-US$500/oz cash costs, at US$358/oz and US$438/oz, respectively, up from US$343/oz and US$360/oz in the same period of last year.
MIDDLE GROUND - US$500-800/oz cash costs
Agnico's Creston Mascota mine, a satellite operation at Pinos Altos, was also among Mexico's lower cost operations, with cash costs of US$525/oz, up from US$460/oz.
This was followed by McEwen Mining's El Gallo, at US$564/oz, up from US$432/oz, due to lower grades.
Argonaut Gold's La Colorada mine saw cash costs fall to US$570/oz from US$654/oz, helped by higher gold and silver output.
Cash costs at the Mercedes mine, acquired by Premier Gold Mines from Yamana Gold last year, remained almost unchanged at US$632/oz, with Torex Gold's El Limón-Guajes at US$671/oz (the mine started commercial production in 2Q16).
Alio Gold (formerly Timmins Gold) saw cash costs fall to US$735/oz from US$761/oz at its San Francisco mine.
HIGHER COST - cash costs over US$800/oz
Alamos Gold's Mulatos operation, pictured, saw cash costs increase to US$827/oz from US$811/oz, with Argonaut Gold's El Castillo coming in at US$885/oz, up from US$850/oz.
Mexico's ageing gold assets were its highest cost producers.
New Gold's Cerro San Pedro mine saw cash costs rise to US$1,099/oz from US$934/oz. Active mining finished in 2Q16, with production continuing through residual leaching.
Alamos' El Chanate mine was the operation with the highest cash cost in Q1, at US$1,144/oz, up from US$1,086/oz. Cash costs are forecast to reach US$1,200/oz for 2017 as the mine nears the end of its active life.