South Africa-based Palabora Mining has reported a ZAR97m ($11m) loss for the 2012 financial year due to declining copper and magnetite prices.
The loss was in sharp contrast to the ZAR1.46bn ($164m) profits returned in the 2011 fiscal.
A guide rope failure, which resulted in a fatality in July 2012, foreign currency-denominated costs and inflationary pressures also contributed to the loss, admitted the company.
Commenting on the rope failure, Palabora Mining managing director Anthony ‘Tony’ Lennox said, "It saddens me that we lost a life in circumstances that were absolutely preventable.
"The fatality, together with all workplace related injuries no matter how minor, represents a real yet brutal reminder to double up efforts around safety."
Selling and distribution costs increased 61% during the year due to increased magnetite sales and above inflation increases in freight and port charges partially offset by reduced vermiculite sales.
Copper production for the company decreased 31% to 40.9 kilo tonnes when compared to 59 kilo tonnes in 2011; dry ore hoisted decreased to 8.6 million tonnes, while total ore treated decreased to 9.2 million tonnes.
Total magnetite including course material (65% fe), iron oxide (56% fe) and DMS, production increased to 5.3 million tonnes.
Looking ahead to 2013, the company has identified good growth opportunities in iron-ore while looking to expand the magnetite production
Other projects lined up for 2013 include increasing the magnetite booster and separation plants to reduce bottlenecks in the production stream, the company said in a statement.
Image: Palabora copper mine, South Africa. Photo: Palabora Mining Company.