Chilean miner Antofagasta says Q4 copper production slumped

Civil unrest and strike hit production, but full-year output rose 6.2 per cent on 2018


Antofagasta, one of the world’s top copper producers, said 2019 was a good year despite a 5.8 per cent drop in fourth-quarter copper production, as civil unrest in Chile disrupted supply and transportation.

Full-year copper output came in at 770,000 tonnes, up 6.2 per cent from 2018, the Chilean miner said in its quarterly production report. However, production fell to 185,500 tonnes in the last quarter of 2019 from 197,000 tonnes in the previous quarter.

Output in the quarter was hurt by the disruption of fuel deliveries to the flagship Los Pelambres mine – which accounts for nearly half the company’s total copper output – as well as maintenance at the Centinela mine and a strike at the Antucoya project.

Shares in the FTSE 100-listed company were down 3.68 per cent in early afternoon trading, while copper contracts for March 2020 were down 0.2 per cent.

Antofagasta confirmed its 2020 output target of between 725,000 and 750,000 tonnes. Gold output is expected between 180,000 ounces and 200,000 ounces, while molybdenum is seen between 12,500 and 14,000 tonnes.

"2019 was a good year operationally for Antofagasta, " CEO Ivan Arriagada said in a statement. "We expect a solid performance from the group in 2020 as we continue to focus on improving the operating efficiency of our mines, enter into labour negotiations at Centinela and Zaldivar and continue to optimise water usage across the group and particularly at Los Pelambres.”

Chile, where Antofagasta operates four mines, is the world’s largest copper producer, while China is the leading consumer of the metal.

The company will release financial results for 2019 on March 17.

FURTHER READING: Copper price forecast for 2020 and beyond

FURTHER READING: Copper output hampered by Chile unrest, Antofagasta warns

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