Return to news listing NEWS RELEASE - 21.04.22

Quarterly Production Report - Q1 2022


Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said: “Antofagasta´s copper production of 138,800 tonnes and net cash costs of $1.75/lb in the first quarter was in line with plan for the period and is consistent with annual guidance as copper production is expected to increase quarter-on-quarter during the year. Production reflected the impact of the ongoing drought at Los Pelambres and the expected lower grades at Centinela Concentrates.

“The copper, gold and molybdenum markets have been strong throughout the quarter, 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 the safety and health of our employees and contractors, and on cost control and disciplined capital allocation.

“With completion of the Los Pelambres desalination plant expected in H2 2022 and no precipitation until the rainy season, full year guidance is retained at 660-690,000 tonnes of copper at a net cash cost of $1.55/lb. Following the completion of the review of the Los Pelambres Expansion project, total capital expenditure for the full year is expected to be $1.9 billion, at the top end of the previously guided range of $1.7–1.9 billion.”



  • Copper production in Q1 2022 at 138,800 tonnes was in line with guidance and is expected to increase quarter-on-quarter during the year. Production was 24.2% lower than in the same quarter in 2021 and 22.4% lower than in Q4 2021 mainly due to the expected temporary reduction in throughput at Los Pelambres because of the drought and lower grades at Centinela Concentrates. Throughput at Los Pelambres was 39.9% lower than in Q1 2021 and 27.7% lower than in Q4 2021, and the grades at Centinela Concentrates were 26.7% and 25.4% lower respectively
  • Gold production was 38,400 ounces in Q1 2022, 35.0% lower than in the same period in 2021 and 40.8% lower than in 4Q 2021, mainly due to expected lower grades at Centinela
  • Molybdenum production in the quarter was 2,000 tonnes, a decrease of 1,000 tonnes compared to the same period in 2021 due to lower grades and throughput at Los Pelambres, and 100 tonnes lower than in Q4 2021


  • Cash costs before by-product credits in Q1 2022 were $2.34/lb, in line with expectations and 66c/lb higher than in the same period last year mainly due to the temporary decrease in production. Higher input prices, particularly for diesel and sulphuric acid, and general inflation were largely offset by the weaker Chilean peso. Compared to the previous quarter, costs increased by 21.9% on lower copper production due to lower grades and throughput
  • Net cash costs were $1.75/lb in Q1 2022, compared to $1.16/lb in Q1 2021 and $1.35/lb in the previous quarter, reflecting the increase in cash costs before by-product credits, slightly offset by higher by-product credits


  • Guidance for the year is unchanged. Group copper production for the full year is expected to be 660-690,000 tonnes, reflecting lower expected grades at Centinela Concentrates and the temporarily reduced throughput at Los Pelambres. Guidance assumes there is no precipitation until the rainy season and the desalination plant at Los Pelambres starts operating in H2 2022. As previously announced, copper production during the year is expected to be lowest in Q1 and to increase quarter-on-quarter thereafter
  • The drought has continued at Los Pelambres with no precipitation during the quarter. Strict water management protocols are in place to optimise water usage and mitigate the impact of low water availability
  • Cash cost guidance before and after by-product credits is also unchanged at $2.00/lb and $1.55/lb respectively
  • The review of the Los Pelambres Expansion project has been completed and Group capital expenditure for the year is expected to be $1.9 billion. This is at the top end of the original guidance range of $1.7–1.9 billion


  • The Company is making progress on unlocking the embedded growth options in its portfolio with identified key brownfield developments and incremental growth within its asset portfolio
  • The Los Pelambres Expansion project was 73% complete as at the end of the quarter
  • A detailed review of the project schedule and costs has recently been completed. The revised capital cost estimate resulting from the review is $2.2 billion (up from $1.7 billion). Of this increase, approximately $220 million is related to the impact of COVID-19 on costs and the construction schedule, $170 million to general inflation, including increased input prices, wages, labour incentives and logistics costs, with the balance reflecting other adjustments to implementation plans and an updated contingency provision
  • The completion schedule remains unchanged with the desalination plant expected to be completed in H2 2022 and the expanded concentrator plant in early 2023
  • The Zaldívar Chloride Leach project was completed in January 2022, on schedule and on budget and is now being commissioned


  • As announced on 20 March, the Company, Barrick Gold and the Governments of Pakistan and Balochistan have reached an agreement in principle on a framework that provides for the reconstitution of the Reko Diq project, and a pathway for the Company to exit the Project. If definitive agreements are executed and the conditions to closing are satisfied, the project will be reconstituted under Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited ("TCC"), a joint venture held equally by the Company and Barrick, and a consortium comprising various Pakistani state-owned enterprises will acquire shares in TCC’s subsidiary, which will hold the project, for a consideration of approximately $900 million and the proceeds will be distributed to the Company in return for its exit from the TCC holding structure. If the conditions to closing are satisfied during 2022, the Company would expect to receive those proceeds during 2023
  • Sales volumes during the quarter were affected by poor weather conditions at the loading ports at the period end, which delayed shipments into early April
  • The Company has been informed that the Consejo de Defensa del Estado (CDE), an independent governmental agency responsible for the defence of the interests of the State of Chile, has filed a claim against Minera Escondida, the lithium producer Albermarle and Zaldívar, alleging that their extraction of water from the Monturaqui-Negrillar-Tilopozo aquifer over the years has impacted the underground water level. The Company is currently reviewing the claim
  • The Constitutional Convention is currently debating the proposed clauses for the new constitution and the final constitution must be completed by 4 July. The new constitution will then be voted on in a national referendum on 4 September
  • The draft mining royalty bill is being reviewed by the Finance Committee of the Senate. However, the new Government is developing a proposal for broader tax reform and this may impact or supersede the progress of the royalty bill
Copper production kt 138.8 183.0 (24.2) 138.8 178.9 (22.4)
Copper sales kt 115.9 182.8 (36.6) 115.9 197.2 (41.2)
Gold production koz 38.4 59.1 (35.0) 38.4 64.9 (40.8)
Molybdenum production 2.0 3.0 (33.3) 2.0 2.1 (4.8)
Cash costs before by-product credits (1) $/lb 2.34 1.68 39.3 2.34 1.92 21.9
Net cash costs (1) $/lb 1.75 1.16 50.9 1.75 1.35 29.6

(1) Cash cost is a non-GAAP measure used by the mining industry to express the cost of production in US dollars per pound of copper produced.

There will be a Q&A video conference call at 1:00pm BST hosted by Iván Arriagada - Chief Executive Officer, Mauricio Ortiz - Chief Financial Officer and René Aguilar, Vice President - Corporate Affairs and Sustainability. Participants can join the conference call here.


Investors – London

Andrew Lindsay 

Rosario Orchard 

Telephone +44 20 7808 0988   

Media – London

Carole Cable

Telephone +44 20 7404 5959

Media – Santiago

Pablo Orozco 

Carolina Pica

Telephone +56 2 2798 7000

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