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Xstrata ramps up copper production after ’12 decline

Keywords: Tags  Xstrata, copper, zinc, Jethro Wookey

LONDON — Xstrata Plc’s full-year mined copper output fell 16 percent in 2012, but the company boosted production in the second half of the year as it ramped up its various new projects.
“As Xstrata Copper transitioned from older, end-of-life mines to new mines and expansions, planned lower volumes, together with production issues at Collahuasi, resulted in a 16-percent reduction in total mined copper production on 2011 performance,” the company said.

“However, copper production progressively increased quarter on quarter to reach an annualized production rate of approximately 900,000 tonnes in December, as we ramped up production at Ernest Henry, commissioned the Antamina plant expansion, commenced production at our new Mount Margaret and Antapaccay mines, and completed the Lomas Bayas II project,” it noted.

The development of Xstrata’s project pipeline peaked in 2012, with 10 major projects across the company’s commodities portfolio entering commissioning and a capital expenditure of $7.6 billion, Xstrata chief executive officer Mick Davis said in a statement.

Xstrata Copper’s Ernest Henry Mining in Australia started processing ore from the Mount Margaret Mine in September, adding 30,000 tonnes per year of copper in concentrate production to the asset, while the expansion of the Antamina copper/zinc joint venture mine in Peru saw production there increase by nearly 40 percent after commissioning in the first quarter. Also in Peru, the Antapaccay Mine is expected to produce an average of 160,000 tonnes per year of copper in concentrate after commissioning in November.

Total production of zinc in concentrate edged higher in 2012 after an 8-percent increase at the company’s Australian operations offset lower grades in Canada and lower zinc production at Antamina.

“During the year, Xstrata Zinc successfully commissioned the George Fisher North expansion and crushing projects, the Lady Loretta Mine and the heavy medium separation plant at McArthur River Mine,” Xstrata said. “At full production, Lady Loretta will be delivering an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of ore per annum, while first ore was delivered six months ahead of schedule at the 1 million tonnes per annum mine expansion at the George Fisher zinc mine.”

“At our zinc business, real cost savings were achieved through permanent cost-cutting initiatives and other production improvements and efficiencies,” Mick Davis said. “Increased volumes at our Australian operations were the main drivers, more than compensating lower production at Antamina, where the mine plan continues to operate in a predominantly copper ore zone, and at our Canadian mines, where ore reserves approach the end of their lives.”

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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