NEW YORK Freeport-McMoRan
Copper & Gold Inc. will increase daily ore output at its
Deep Ore Zone Grasberg Mine in Indonesia to 80,000 tonnes per
day by the end of 2013, a 60-percent increase from the 2012
rate of around 50,000 tonnes per day, which will help bring
2013 copper sales to 1.1 billion pounds.
Phoenix-based Freeport faced "a
slower than anticipated ramp up" at the mine as panel repairs
were "more extensive" than initially thought due to inactivity
resulting from the strike at Grasberg, president and chief
executive officer Richard Adkerson told analysts during a call
following the release of the companys fourth-quarter
Unusually low ore grades from
Grasberg had a "significant" impact on 2012 copper and gold
production, with Adkerson calling them "the lowest grades in
Grasberg in 18 years."
However, the company expects to
produce higher grades later this year.
"As we go forward in late 2013
and 2014, our stripping requirements will drop dramatically,
and our volumes and profitably will increase," Adkerson said.
"We are looking to have higher grades in 2013, beginning near
the end of the year and beyond that, our profitability at
Grasberg should be extraordinary."
Freeport expects Indonesian
copper sales to total 1.1 billion pounds in 2013 compared with
716 million pounds in 2012, while gold sales are expected to
hit around 1.2 million ounces this year vs. 915,000 ounces in
This year, Freeport forecasts
some 33 percent of Indonesias projected copper sales and
38 percent of gold sales will come in the fourth quarter.
The company is progressing on
its other brownfield projects as well.
expansion at its Tenke Fungurume Mine in the Democratic
Republic of Congo is "substantially complete, on time and on
budget," Adkerson said.
The project, which will cost
around $850 million, includes mill upgrades, additional mining
equipment, a new tank house and a new sulfuric acid plant. Once
the expansion is complete, the mill will produce 14,000 tonnes
of ore per day and about 150 million pounds of copper per
Freeport also received approval
on its environmental impact study at its mine in Cerro Verde,
Peru, during the fourth quarter and expects to begin
construction this year. The $4.4-billion project will expand
ore capacity to 360,000 tonnes per day from 120,000 tonnes, and
will put copper and molybdenum production at 600 million pounds
and 15 million pounds per year, respectively.
Freeport also began construction
on its Morenci Mine in Arizona, a $1.4-billion project that
will increase annual copper production to 225 million pounds by
2014, a 40 percent increase from 2012.