Silver lining in weaker peso for Mexican miners

Silver lining

Investors are picking up on the benefits for Mexican silver miners of one of the biggest foreign exchange stories since November's U.S. election, with the slide in the peso pushing costs lower while silver prices are rising up.

Against the dollar, the peso hit a record low last month at 22.03, pressured by concern over a potential trade war between the United States and Mexico in the wake of Donald Trump's U.S. election victory.

While some say the worst of the currency's slide may be over, the peso is expected to remain weak throughout this year.

Between 60 percent and 70 percent of silver miners' costs in Mexico -- from labor to power -- are priced in pesos, an industry analyst estimates. For a company that sells its output in dollars, that suggests a significant benefit to cost margins.

George Cheveley, portfolio manager at the Investec Global Natural Resources fund said, "The fall in the peso has improved costs not just for the silver producers, but for all miners in Mexico. That's against a background where we see silver itself as attractive."

Investec has increased exposure to silver in recent months in both its Natural Resources fund, which has $300 million in assets under management, and its Global Gold Fund, he said.

Mexico is the world's biggest silver producer, with output of 192 million ounces in 2015.

According to metals markets research team GFMS, analysis on the five largest domestic Mexican silver mining companies suggests that the drop in the peso alone has led to an average 7 percent margin gain.

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