LONDON Copper metal
production was up just 2 percent last year at Glencore
International Ltds 75.2-percent-owned Katanga operation
in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following more than
two months of lost production.
Katanga produced 93,000 tonnes
of copper in metal and concentrate in 2012 after output was
severely disrupted by power failures in the DRC. Copper cathode
production was up 7 percent from 2011, despite the disruption
caused by the power shortage, and a new power converter and
synchronous condenser were commissioned in December.
60-percent-owned Mutanda operation, meanwhile, copper
production was up 37 percent to 87,000 tonnes in metal and
concentrate, while copper cathode production was up 90 percent
to 83,500 tonnes.
Following completion of the
cobalt plant, Mutanda now has the capacity to produce as much
as 110,000 tonnes of copper and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt
annually. Mutandas cobalt production totaled 8,500 tonnes
last year, up 8 percent from 2011.
Glencore acquired a further
20-percent stake in Mutanda in May for $340 million in cash
plus the assumption of about $140 million in debt. The company
said that raising its stake to 60 percent was the first step in
merging Mutanda and Kansuki, a copper and cobalt
pre-development project bordering Mutanda, to form a combined
entity with an installed annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes of
copper by the end of this year.
In Zambia, Glencores own
copper production at its 73.1-percent-owned Mopani operation
came to 99,000 tonnes in 2012, down 2 percent from the previous
year, and total copper production reached 187,100 tonnes, down
8 percent. The reduction in total finished copper production
was attributed mainly to the planned smelter shutdown during
2012, Glencore said, while the reduction in Mopanis own
copper production followed the temporary suspension of the heap
leach process earlier in the year.
The smelter upgrade project,
including improving sulfur dioxide emission capture to more
than 97 percent, is expected to be completed by December, 18
months ahead of schedule.
At Glencores other copper
operations, which include Cobar in Australia, Pasar in
Malaysia, Punitaqui in Chile and Sable in Zambia, metal
production last year was 40 percent lower than in 2011.
A fire at Pasar stopped
production there for about six months. Since the restart in
July, output has been in line with or above levels achieved in
Copper concentrate production at
Cobar was down 13 percent last year and silver contained in
concentrate was down 9 percent following operational issues due
to electrical failures and delays in underground development
In Kazakhstan, where Glencore
now holds a 69.6-percent interest in Kazzinc, gold production
increased 22 percent to 474,000 ounces thanks to continued
growth at Altyntau as well as the contribution of gold
recovered from the copper smelter.
Copper production at Kazzinc
fell 3 percent to 49,600 tonnes, but copper cathode production
more than doubled to 47,300 tonnes following the ramp-up at the
new copper smelter, commissioned in 2011.
Lead production from its own
sources totaled 26,800 tonnes in 2012, down 25 percent from the
previous year, reflecting the processing of gold-rich
concentrate at the old lead smelter ahead of its
decommissioning before the ramp-up at the new lead smelter,
commissioned in August 2012.
Zinc production from its own
sources was down 8 percent to 227,300 tonnes following a small
reduction in grade during 2012.
The picture was mixed at
Glencores other zinc operations, which include Los
Quenuales in Peru, Sinchi Wayra in Bolivia, AR Zinc in
Argentina, Portovesme in Italy and Rosh Pinah in Namibia.
The acquisition of Rosh Pinah
and a strong performance at AR Zinc led to higher production of
silver metal and lead concentrate, but this was offset by lower
production at Los Quenuales and Sinchi Wayra.
The nationalization of the
Colquiri Mine at Sinchi Wayra meant no tin was produced after
June, while Los Quenuales received community approval to
develop a new ore area at Iscaycruz.
At Murrin Murrin,
Glencores 100-percent-owned nickel operation in
Australia, production totaled a record 33,400 tonnes of nickel,
up 17 percent from 2011, while cobalt production was up 18
percent to 2,400 tonnes due to improved throughput levels and
Production at Sherwin Alumina in
Gregory, Texas, totaled 1.4 million tonnes, down 6 percent from
2011 following the overhaul of the calciner.
Glencore acquired 100 percent of
Vales European manganese ferroalloys operations in 2012.
The operations in France and Norway currently have the capacity
to produce a total of 260,000 tonnes of manganese ferroalloys
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister
publication Metal Bulletin.