Chilean copper miner Antofagasta reported a record production of 220,000t in the fourth quarter and 725,300t for full year 2018.
The firm’s copper production in Q4 2018 was 16.8% higher compared to the previous quarter due to increased production at all of its operations, especially at Centinela Concentrates where the output surged by 68.3%.
Its full year copper production was at the higher end of revised guidance, experiencing a 3% increase compared to 2017 due to higher production at Los Pelambres and Centinela.
In Q4, throughput at Centinela Concentrates was 6% above design capacity, at 111,100t per day.
For the quarter, gold production stood at 90,000 ounces, a 87.1% increase from the previous quarter due to higher throughput, grades and recoveries at Centinela. The full year production of gold was 210,100 ounces, which is at the higher end of forecast.
The molybdenum production was reported to be 3,300t in Q4 and 13,600t for the full year, which is an increase of 29.5% from the previous year due to higher throughput, grades and recoveries at Los Pelambres. Even this production was above guidance.
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The net cash costs were $0.99/lb in the quarter, a 22.0% drop compared with Q3, thereby indicating the lower cash costs before by-products credits. For the full year, net cash costs were $1.29/lb, 3.2% higher than in 2017, but below guidance, in turn indicating higher by-product revenues.
The company expects its overall production in 2019 to be a record year with 750-790,000t of copper, 240-260,000 ounces of gold and 11,500-12,500 tonnes of molybdenum.
For this year, it expects group cash costs before and after by-product credits to be similar to that of the previous year, at $1.70/lb and $1.30/lb, respectively.
Capital expenditure is expected to be $1.2bn including the Los Pelambres expansion project.
This project, following completion of expansion, will add 60,000t of copper per annum.
Sustaining capital expenditure and mine development for this year is expected to remain at similar levels as 2018.
Antofagasta CEO Iván Arriagada said: “The Group’s operations have achieved an improved level of operating stability and we go into 2019 with real momentum for what we expect to be another record-setting year, with production increasing by up to 9% to 750-790,000 tonnes at net cash costs of $1.30/lb.
“Our priorities for the year ahead are to continue to strengthen our safety performance and our operational reliability and efficiency, while also starting the construction of the Los Pelambres expansion, which was approved by the Board at the end of last year.”