Quarterly Production Report - Q4 2020
FULL YEAR GUIDANCE ACHIEVED
STRONG FINAL QUARTER
Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said: “Despite a challenging year that was placed on the world by COVID-19, the resilience and flexibility of our operations has meant that we have finished the year strongly, achieving full year production guidance and lower cash costs than in 2019.
“Full year copper production was 733,900 tonnes and cash costs were $1.14/lb, reflecting the resilience and flexibility of the Company in the face of the year’s challenges.
“Our priority during 2020 was to protect the health and safety of our employees and contractors, and the communities near our operations, and that will not change as we keep in place all the health protocols we successfully implemented in 2020. I am also pleased to report that, for a second year in a row, there were no fatalities and our safety performance continues to improve at all our operations.
“We expect another solid performance in 2021 with copper production of 730-760,000 tonnes at a net cash cost of $1.25/lb as ore grades increase at Centinela Concentrates and operating efficiency at our mines remains high.”
- Copper production for the full year was 733,900 tonnes, in line with guidance and 4.7% lower than the record production in 2019 mainly on expected lower grades at Centinela Concentrates
- Copper production in Q4 2020 was 192,600 tonnes, 13.6% higher than in the previous quarter on higher throughput at all operations
- Gold production for the quarter was 54,700 ounces, 42.8% higher than in the previous quarter as throughput, grades and recoveries increased at Centinela. Full year production was above guidance at 204,100 ounces, 27.7% less than in 2019, on expected lower grades at Centinela
- Molybdenum production in the quarter was 3,700 tonnes, 8.8% higher than the previous quarter on higher throughput at Los Pelambres. For the full year, production was 12,600 tonnes, 8.6% higher than in 2019 and within guidance
- Cash costs before by-product credits in 2020 were $1.56/lb, 9c/lb lower than last year due the weaker Chilean peso, lower input costs and continued tight cost control, partially offset by lower production
- Cash costs before by-product credits in Q4 2020 were $1.63/lb, 1.9% higher than in Q3 2020 due to stronger exchange rate and the impact of the one-off signing bonus payable following the successful completion of labour negotiations at Centinela
- Net cash costs for the full year were $1.14/lb, below guidance and 6.6% lower than in 2019 due to lower cash costs before by-product credits
- Net cash costs in Q4 2020 were $1.14/lb, 4.2% lower than in the previous quarter, reflecting the higher by-products credits, partially offset by the increase in cash costs before by-products credits
- Guidance assumes COVID-19 will remain in place for all of 2021, limiting transport to and from site and available camp accommodation, and requiring the extensive use of remote working and the implementation of a full set of health controls at our operations and offices. Considering the unprecedented situation, further changes may be required during the year
- Group production in 2021 is expected to be 730-760,000 tonnes of copper (as previously announced), 240-260,000 ounces of gold and 9,500-11,000 tonnes of molybdenum. The higher copper and gold production than in 2020 reflects higher grades at Centinela Concentrates
- Group cash costs in 2021 before and after by-product credits are expected to be at $1.65/lb and $1.25/lb respectively
- Capital expenditure in 2021 is expected to be $1.6 billion, as the rate of expenditure on our growth projects accelerates following their temporary suspension in 2020 which deferred some $200 million into 2021 and higher costs at the Los Pelambres Expansion project
GROWTH PROJECTS UPDATE
- The Los Pelambres Expansion project was 45% complete as at the end of the quarter
- As previously announced, the construction of the Los Pelambres Expansion project restarted in August and a detailed review of the project schedule and costs, including those associated with the realised and continued restrictions due to COVID-19 and changes to the marine works to enable the future expansion of the desalination plant, has recently been completed.
The marine works associated with the inlet and outlet pipes and the desalination plant will now be sized to allow for an expanded water flow required for the future plant expansion to 800 litres per second. Other adjustments including ancillary piping, cabling, civil works and the expanded future plant footprint have also been included in the revised project plan where feasible within the existing permits. The balance of the project remains within the original scope.
The revised capital cost estimate resulting from the review is $1.7 billion (up from the original project cost of $1.3 billion) and completion is now expected in early H2 2022. Of this increase approximately $235 million is related to the revised marine works, desalination plant and pipeline, $140 million to COVID-19 costs and construction schedule extension and the balance reflects other adjustments including changes in input prices and exchange rate.
Given the high degree of interactions with the existing operations and the nearby communities, the very high manpower requirements during peak construction in the original project execution plan have been revised down to address the COVID-19 risks and restrictions. These restrictions are assumed to continue for the whole of 2021, limiting on-site manpower to approximately 75% of the original planned levels which results in the requirement to extend the original construction schedule.
- As previously announced, the Zaldívar Chloride Leach project and Esperanza Sur pit are expected to achieve first production in the first half of 2022. Capital expenditure estimates are unchanged
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