Quarterly Production Report - Q4 2017
STRONG FINISH TO THE YEAR
Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said:
“Antofagasta had a strong year operationally. Copper production at 704,300 tonnes was in line with guidance and came in at a net cash cost of $1.25/lb. I am also pleased to report that the Group had zero fatalities during 2017, a target we remain focused on as we continue to focus on safety across our operations.
“Our disciplined approach to capital allocation has allowed the Group to continue to invest in profitable tonnes throughout the cycle. The new additions to our portfolio at Zaldívar, Antucoya and Encuentro Oxides now account for 25% of Group production, helping offset declines at our mature assets and providing Antofagasta with a platform for growth as copper prices recover.
“Our priorities for 2018 will be to continue to improve the safety, reliability and profitability of our operations, whilst advancing our development projects in a disciplined manner.”
- Copper production in Q4 2017 was 177,800 tonnes, 1.3% less than in the previous quarter. Higher production at Los Pelambres and the ramp-up of the Encuentro Oxides project offset lower production at Centinela Concentrates
- Group copper production for the full year was 704,300 tonnes, in line with guidance and 0.7% lower than in 2016. This was due to the impact of the expected lower grades at Los Pelambres and Centinela, which was offset by Encuentro Oxides coming into production in October and following the completion of the ramp-up at Antucoya in 2016.
- Gold production was 40,500 ounces in Q4 2017, a 32.0% decrease on Q3 2017 due to lower grades and recoveries at Centinela. For the full year production was 212,400 ounces, 21.6% lower than in 2016, again reflecting lower grades and recoveries at Centinela.
- Molybdenum production at Los Pelambres was 3,300 tonnes in Q4 2017 and 10,500 tonnes for the full year, 47.9% higher than in the previous year on higher grades.
- Cash costs before by-product credits in Q4 2017 were $1.69/lb, 8.3% higher than in Q3 2017 due to the one-off signing bonus payable following the successful completion of labour negotiations at Centinela and the expected lower grades at Centinela Concentrates.
- Cash costs before by-product credits for the full year were $1.60/lb, 6c/lb higher than last year due to the decline in grades at Los Pelambres and Centinela, higher input prices and a stronger local currency.
- Net cash costs were $1.36/lb in Q4 2017, a 15.3% increase compared with the previous quarter. This was primarily due to higher cash costs before by-products credits and the lower gold grade at Centinela and lower by-product revenue.
- Net cash costs for 2017 were $1.25/lb, 4.2% higher than in 2016 but below guidance reflecting higher byproduct revenues.
- Group production in 2018 is expected to be in the range of 705-740,000 tonnes of copper (as previously announced), 190-210,000 ounces of gold and 11,500-12,500 tonnes of molybdenum. Copper production is weighted towards the second half of the year.
- Copper grades are expected to decrease to 0.52% at Centinela Concentrates and Encuentro Oxides will operate at capacity for the full year
- Group cash costs in 2018 before and after by-product credits are expected to be $1.65/lb and $1.35/lb respectively.
- Capital expenditure in 2018 is expected to be $1.0 billion, including expenditure on the Los Pelambres Incremental Expansion project, which will add 55,000 tonnes of copper per annum once in full operation. The project is expected to be presented to the Board for approval during 2018 once the EIA has been approved and start-up is expected in 2021. Sustaining capital expenditure increases in 2018 due to the concentration of mine equipment replacement and tailings dam expenditure.
- The Group had zero fatalities during 2017
- In December, labour negotiations were completed with three unions at Centinela ahead of their scheduled dates. Together with other agreements concluded earlier in the year, one-off signing bonuses increased Group cash costs in 2017 by 2c/lb.
- Labour negotiations at Los Pelambres are expected to be concluded during Q1 2018.