Quarterly Production Report - Q1 2021
PRODUCTION AND COSTS IN LINE WITH GUIDANCE
Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said: “Antofagasta´s production and cost performance in the first quarter was in line with guidance with copper production at 183,000 tonnes and net cash costs at $1.16/lb.
“Labour negotiations were successfully concluded at Los Pelambres and no further negotiations are scheduled at our mining operations until next year.
“In March, Chile entered a second wave of COVID-19 infections as the number of cases in Chile accelerated, reaching record daily cases since the outbreak of the pandemic. As a result, countrywide lockdowns have been reinstated with the availability of critical hospital infrastructure under significant pressure. In addition to the health measures we introduced last year we have further reduced our on-site workforce and these actions have allowed us to continue to operate our mines and projects under these challenging conditions. Additional testing has been introduced throughout the Group while the full benefit of the country’s successful vaccination programme is expected to be realised later in the year. We also remain committed to supporting our local communities and suppliers, and contributing to the social and economic recovery of Chile.
“The copper market continues to perform strongly, and we expect this to continue as structural supply and demand dynamics support a tight physical market. In the meantime, we maintain our focus on cost control and disciplined capital allocation.
“Production, cost and capital expenditure guidance for the full year is unchanged, assuming no additional nationwide restrictions are imposed due the pandemic.”
- Copper production in Q1 2021 was in line with guidance at 183,000 tonnes, 5.7% lower than in the same quarter in 2020 and 5.0% lower than in Q4 2020 mainly due to expected reduced grades at Los Pelambres
- Gold production was 59,100 ounces in Q1 2021, 9.2% lower than in the same period in 2020 and 8.0% higher than in 4Q 2020, mainly due to changes in grade at Centinela
- Molybdenum production in the quarter was 3,000 tonnes, an increase of 600 tonnes compared to the same period in 2020 due to higher recoveries at Centinela, and 700 tonnes lower than in Q4 2020
- Cash costs before by-product credits in Q1 2021 were $1.68/lb, 17c/lb higher than the same period last year due to the decrease in production, the stronger Chilean peso and the impact of the payment of a one-off signing bonus following the completion of labour negotiations at Los Pelambres
- Net cash costs were $1.16/lb in Q1 2021, compared to $1.10/lb in Q1 2020 and $1.14/lb in the previous quarter, reflecting the increase in cash costs before by-product credits, partially offset by the higher by-product credits
- Full year guidance assumes COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for all of 2021. However, because of the new wave of COVID-19 cases and the nationwide lockdown imposed in late March, major maintenance at Los Pelambres originally planned for Q2 and which requires a large number of additional workers on-site is under review so that some of the non-critical activities can be rescheduled to later in 2021
- With the drought in central Chile now in its 12th year, Los Pelambres has implemented several operational changes during Q1 aimed at preserving water availability in anticipation of what could be a delayed start to the winter rainfall. While rainfall in 2020 was slightly higher than 2019, which itself was one of the worst years on record, the water balance in 2021 will reflect the cumulative impact of another year of drought. Los Pelambres will continue to regularly review projected water availability for the year under different scenarios and a sustained focus on optimising water usage will remain key, and in the second half 2022 we will complete the desalination plant
- In Q1, the growth projects at Los Pelambres, Centinela and Zaldívar progressed according to their revised plans with the COVID-19 health protocols fully integrated into their execution plans. Given the more extensive lockdown imposed since late March a further reduction in the number of on-site workers at Los Pelambres has been implemented in April and, at this stage, this is not expected to have an impact on the projects’ schedules or costs
- Despite the above, and the stronger than expected Chilean peso, full year guidance is unchanged at 730-760,000 tonnes of copper at a net cash cost of $1.25/lb and capital expenditure of $1.6 billion
- Production in the second half of the year is expected to be slightly stronger than in the first half
- Earlier this month Los Pelambres submitted the EIA for the expansion of the desalination plant to 800 l/s, and for various sustaining capital expenditure projects, including the replacement of the concentrate pipeline and other infrastructure
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