Return to news listing NEWS RELEASE - 17.01.24

Quarterly Production Report – Q4 2023


Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said: “2023 was a year of significant progress, and we are pleased to be moving forward into the next phase of development and growth for our Company. In 2023, we recorded another strong year of safety performance, with no fatalities and a reduction in lost time injury rates. We have delivered a year of robust operational performance in 2023, with production increasing by 2% and net cash costs in line year-on-year, with our strong cost discipline and increased output of by-products offsetting industry-wide cost inflation. Production in 2024 is expected to increase to 670-710,000 tonnes of copper, as previously announced, with guidance for net cash costs set at $1.60/lb.

“On growth, we are finalising the delivery of the Phase 1 Expansion Project at Los Pelambres, which will help to maintain this asset’s future production. Underpinning our future growth, we recently announced the approval of the Centinela Second Concentrator Project, which will provide an additional 170,000 copper-equivalent tonnes of production into an increasingly constrained global market for copper1.

“In line with our strategy of prioritising exploration and investment in the Americas, in December we disclosed our investment in Buenaventura , reflecting the potential we see in Buenaventura’s2 asset portfolio and the highly prospective geology of Peru.

“With the delivery of projects and announcement of a new phase of investment in growth, our Company is well-positioned for the future. Copper prices continued to show stability in 2023 and we believe in copper’s fundamental role in the energy transition and electrification, which will support long-term pricing.”



  • Group copper production in Q4 2023 was 191,500 tonnes, 10% higher than Q3 2023, primarily related to production increases at both Los Pelambres and Centinela.
  • Group copper production for the full year was 660,600 tonnes, 2% higher than the previous year, with an increasing contribution from Los Pelambres, as the Phase 1 Expansion Project ramps up.
  • Gold production for the full year 2023 was 209,100 ounces, 18% higher than 2022 due to higher gold grades at Centinela. Gold production of 65,500 in Q4 represents a 14% increase compared to the previous quarter, with this increase driven by higher gold grades at Centinela.
  • Molybdenum production for the full year 2023 was 11,000 tonnes, representing a 13% increase year-on-year due to higher throughput rates at Los Pelambres and higher recoveries at Centinela. Molybdenum production in Q4 2023 fell by 9% to 2,900 tonnes, primarily due to lower recoveries at Centinela.


  • Cash costs before by-product credits in Q4 2023 were $2.07/lb, 9% lower than the previous quarter due to higher production across the Group and lower costs in Q4 at all our operations.
  • Cash costs before by-product credits in full year 2023 were $2.31/lb, 5% higher than the prior year, primarily due to local inflation, appreciation of the Chilean peso and the conclusion of a number of 3-year labour agreements.
  • Net cash costs in Q4 2023 were $1.50/lb, 2% higher than in the previous quarter, with lower cash costs before by-products offset by lower by-product credits, related to lower molybdenum production and pricing.
  • Net cash costs for the full year 2023 were $1.61/lb, in line with 2022 and ahead of guidance for the year, reflecting a balance of higher underlying cash costs before by-products, alongside higher production and pricing for by-products.


  • The Company announced the approval of the Centinela Second Concentrator in late December 2023, which is a growth project that is expected to add 170,000 tonnes of copper-equivalent production to the Company’s portfolio. The project is expected to deliver a reduction in Centinela’s overall net cash costs, moving it towards the first quartile on the global cost curve, due to a greater emphasis on modern technologies and by-products, and economies of scale. The capital cost estimate for this project is $4.4 billion, which will be financed by a combination of project finance (c.60%) and direct funding (c.40%) from Centinela’s shareholders (Antofagasta plc and Marubeni Corporation). Critical path works began immediately after announcement, with full construction expected to commence after definitive project finance documents have been executed during Q1 2024. In parallel, the Company is reviewing a potential outsourcing of Centinela’s water supply, the impact of which is not included in capital cost estimate referenced above. For further details, please see the press release and presentation provided on the Company’s website (
  • Following the commissioning of the Phase 1 desalination plant for Los Pelambres, the successful ramp up towards this facility’s instantaneous design capacity of 400 litres per second is nearing completion, with an average output of approximately 307 litres per second during December 2023 (Q3 2023: 248 litres per second).
  • The fourth concentrator line at Los Pelambres is successfully completing its commissioning phase, with an additional two million tonnes of ore processed as of the end of the year.
  • In November 2023, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved for the project to double the size of the Los Pelambres’ desalination plant to an instantaneous design capacity of 800 litres per second, as well as replacing the concentrate pipeline and the construction of certain planned enclosures at the El Mauro tailings storage facility. This work represents one part of the Los Pelambres Phase 2 Expansion Project, approval of which will be considered by the Board of Directors during Q1 2024.
  • The Company continues to progress test work on its patented Cuprochlor-T technology for the leaching of primary sulphides, which has now achieved recovery rates of more than 70% after 220 days. The Company is now evaluating the feasibility of advancing this technology across other mining operations, including third parties.
  • In December 2023, the Company announced an investment to acquire beneficial ownership of approximately 19% of the outstanding shares of Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A. (“Buenaventura”). Buenaventura is Peru’s largest, publicly traded precious and base metals company and a major holder of mining rights in Peru, with the Company’s investment in line with its strategy of prioritising exploration and investment in the Americas.


  • As previously announced, Group production in 2024 is expected to be 670-710,000 tonnes of copper. Output of by-products is expected to be 195-215,000 ounces of gold and 11.0-12.5 tonnes of molybdenum. The expected increase in copper production in 2024 principally reflects the addition of the Los Pelambres Phase 1 Expansion Project in 2023, with increased water availability and ore processing capacity expected in 2024.
  • Group cash costs in 2024 before by-product credits are expected to be $2.25/lb, in line with 2023, with the positive impact of higher production balanced by a short-term reduction in ore grades at Los Pelambres.
  • Group net cash costs in 2024 are expected to be $1.60/lb, with by-product credits expected to remain in line year-on-year.
  • In 2024, consolidated Group capital expenditure, which excludes Zaldívar, is expected to be $2.7 billion, with sustaining and mine development expenditure broadly in line year-on-year, and as development expenditure commences on the Centinela Second Concentrator (not including any potential reduction in capital expenditures as a result of the process to outsource Centinela’s water supply) and other growth projects at Los Pelambres and Centinela.


  • The Group continues to prioritise the safety of its workforce, achieving a strong performance in safety metrics during 2023, with no fatalities during the year (2022: zero) and the Group’s lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) of 0.62 representing a 26% reduction year-on-year. Recent safety highlights within the Group include the completion of more than 39 million hours worked to date on the Los Pelambres Phase 1 Expansion Project with a LTIFR of less than 1.0, and our Transport Division reducing its incidence rate for lost time injuries by more than 50% in 2023, resulting in a LTIFR of 0.9 (2022: 2.2).
  • In June 2023, Zaldívar submitted an EIA application to extend its mining and water environmental permits through to 2051. This includes a proposal to develop the primary sulphide ore deposit and extend the current life of mine at an estimated investment over the mine life of $1.2 billion. It also includes a plan to change the mine’s water source from the local aquifer to either seawater or water provided by third parties. This will follow a transition period during which the current continental water extraction permit is extended from 2025 to 2028. In parallel, the Company has submitted a Declaration of Environmental Impact (“DIA”) to align the expiry date of Zaldivar’s current mining permit (2024) to the current water permit (2025).
  • Considering the continuing drought in central Chile and the recent changes in the Water Code, discussions have continued during the quarter with stakeholders in the Choapa Valley about water distribution arrangements in the area, following an agreement being reached with local communities in 2023. The relevant water authority has continued in the process of reviewing this proposal. This ongoing process involves no material change to the availability of continental water at Los Pelambres.


  • In December 2023, Chileans voted to reject a proposed constitution, and as a result the country will now continue with the existing constitution, which has been in place for several decades.


  • During Q4 2023, the Company concluded three-year labour agreements with two workers unions at Centinela.
  • In 2024, the Company has one labour agreement scheduled to expire during the year, which is an agreement with a worker’s union at Centinela (due to expire in November 2024).
  • In November 2023, Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) appealed the September 2023 order issued by a District Court in the United States, which dismissed the claims filed by TMM that challenged the administrative actions that resulted in the rejection of its preference right lease applications, the cancellation of its federal leases 1352 and 1353 and the rejection of its Mine Plan of Operations for the Maturi Deposit in Minnesota. This action is pending.

1Production average over an initial 10-year period.
2Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A.

Copper production kt 660.6 646.2 2.2 191.5 173.6 10.3
Copper sales kt 667.2 642.5 3.8 213.4 158.4 34.7
Gold production koz 209.1 176.8 18.3 65.5 57.4 14.1
Molybdenum production kt 11.0 9.7 13.4 2.9 3.2 (9.4)
Cash costs before by-product credits (1) $/lb 2.31 2.19 5.5 2.07 2.27 (8.8)
Net cash costs (1) $/lb 1.61 1.61  


1.47 2.0

(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.


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