Anglo American has released its financial results for the first quarter of 2019, reporting declines in production across its commodities triggered by a fall in ore grades and planned maintenance works.

The company reported a 6% decline in total production in the quarter, compared to the last three months of 2018. The company’s coal production struggled the most, with thermal coal exports to Australia, Colombia and South Africa falling by 21%, 7% and 3% respectively, and total coal production 25% lower in the first quarter of 2019 than the first quarter of 2018. The company suggested “an extended longwall move” at the Moranbah coal mine undermined production, as the change required extensive maintenance work that will continue into the second half of 2019.

Nickel production also fell by 14%, despite a 9% increase in ore mined at the Barro Alto project. The company saw processing fall by 13% at the mine, and 7% at the Codemin project, due to planned maintenance work. While Anglo American’s copper mines produced 161,000 tonnes in the first quarter of the year, the company’s best first quarter performance since 2014, this figure is still 12% lower than production in the last quarter of 2018.

“Production is 6% lower in the quarter, with two planned longwall moves at Metallurgical Coal accounting for 80% of the reduction,” said CEO Mark Cutifani. “Isolated production issues at Venetia (De Beers), Kumba Iron Ore and Platinum Group Metals made up the balance, mitigated by stronger operational performance from Copper, with a 4% production increase, and the ramp-up at Minas-Rio, which is ahead of plan following the restart of operations in December 2018.

“By the end of the quarter we had increased our production run-rate, are on track to deliver this year’s production targets and our guidance is unchanged.”

The Minas-Rio mine saw the largest increase in production from one year to the next, with production rising 61% from 3 million tonnes (Mt) in the first quarter of 2018 to 4.9Mt in the first quarter of 2019. The mine was responsible for one of only three increases in production over this period, due to access to higher grades of iron ore at the project.

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