Quarterly Production Report - Q4 2019
RECORD COPPER PRODUCTION
Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said: “2019 was a good year operationally for Antofagasta. We had record copper production of 770,000 tonnes, at the top end of our revised guidance, and improved cash costs of $1.22/lb. I am also pleased to report that there were no fatalities during the year, a target we remain focused on as our top priority.
“We expect a solid performance from the Group in 2020 as we continue to focus on improving the operating efficiency of our mines, enter into labour negotiations at Centinela and Zaldivar, and continue to optimise water usage across the Group and particularly at Los Pelambres. We will also complete the Centinela Second Concentrator feasibility study and continue to invest in our growth projects including the Los Pelambres expansion, the Esperanza Sur pit and the Zaldivar Chloride Leach project. Production is expected to be 725-755,000 tonnes of copper at a net cash cost of $1.30/lb.”
“Following the civil unrest in Chile last year and the disruption of supplies at Los Pelambres, all of our mining operations have been operating in line with their respective plans, although the Transport division has had some interruptions due to occasional road blockages in the city of Antofagasta.
“Our purpose remains robust – developing mining for a better future – and this means making decisions with the understanding that our activities make an important contribution to developing the world of the future while also providing societal benefits to our host countries and local communities. In line with this, and following a practice we introduced some years ago, we recently increased the minimum wage for our employees and contractors to a level that is now two thirds higher than the national minimum wage”.
- Record copper production for the full year of 770,000 tonnes was at the top end of revised guidance, 6.2% higher than in 2018 on higher production at Los Pelambres, Centinela and Zaldívar
- Group copper production in Q4 2019 was 185,500 tonnes, only 5.8% lower than in the previous quarter due to planned lower grades and maintenance at Centinela Concentrates, the disruption of fuel deliveries to Los Pelambres due to social unrest in Chile and the strike at Antucoya
- Gold production was 55,600 ounces in Q4 2019, a decrease on Q3 2019 with lower grades at Centinela. Full year production was 282,300 ounces, 34.4% higher than in 2018 and above guidance
- Molybdenum production was 2,300 tonnes during the quarter and 11,600 tonnes for the full year, 14.7% lower than in the previous year on expected lower grades at Los Pelambres and unchanged production at Centinela
- Cash costs before by-product credits for the full year were $1.65/lb, 7c/lb lower than last year due higher production, tight cost control and the weaker Chilean Peso
- Cash costs before by-product credits in Q4 2019 were $1.70/lb, 6.3% higher than in Q3 2019 due to lower production, particularly at Centinela
- Net cash costs for the full year were $1.22/lb, 5.4% lower than in 2018 due to lower cash costs before byproduct credits and below guidance
- Net cash costs were $1.37/lb in Q4 2019, a 22.3% increase compared with the previous quarter, reflecting the higher cash costs before by-products credits and significantly lower by-products credits
- Group production in 2020 is expected to be 725-755,000 tonnes of copper (as previously announced), 180- 200,000 ounces of gold and 12,500-14,000 tonnes of molybdenum. The lower guidance reflects lower copper and gold grades at Centinela Concentrates
- Group cash costs in 2020 before and after by-product credits are expected to be at $1.70/lb and $1.30/lb respectively
- Capital expenditure in 2020 is expected to be $1.5 billion, an increase on the $1.2 billion guided for 2019 as the rate of expenditure on the Los Pelambres expansion accelerates over the year to $0.7 billion
- There were no fatalities at any of the Group’s operations in 2019
- As announced on 4 November, mine supplies at Los Pelambres were disrupted when the access road was blocked and this was expected to reduce production by approximately 10,000 tonnes. However, the impact of the blockade was largely reversed over the rest of the quarter as higher grade ore than originally planned was processed
- As announced on 4 November, the workers’ union at Antucoya accepted a revised offer ending an 18-day strike which had reduced production by some 4,000 tonnes. Labour negotiations with a new supervisors’ union at Antucoya were successfully concluded during the quarter
- Progress on the Los Pelambres expansion project (engineering, procurement and construction) reached 31% as at the end of 2019
- 2019 was the driest year of a 10-year drought in Central Chile. Los Pelambres regularly reviews expected water availability under different scenarios with a focus on optimising water usage. This was the case in 2019 and remains central to ensuring plans for the current year are not affected
- During Q4 Twin Metals filed a Mine Plan of Operations to both State and Federal agencies formally initiating the environmental permitting process for this greenfield project in northeast Minnesota