Antofagasta's copper production rose 3 percent to 725,300 tonnes last year, allowing the company to weigh potential expansion projects.
Antofagasta Mining News
The miner produced 220,000 tonnes of the red metal in the three months to December, up 16% from the previous quarter, boosted by higher throughput and improved copper grades.
The report does have a caveat.
It was supposed to be a year of mine disruptions, with the market anticipating that multiple labour contract expiries would result in at least one strike.
Copper output in Chile, the world’s top producer of the metal, is expected to increase 4% in 2019 and continue to grow steadily during 2019 due to stronger performance from major mines, upgrades to existing operations, and lower risk of labour strikes.
The company said the expansion, to start in early 2019, would add an average 60,000 tonnes of copper a year to its production over the first 15 years of operation.
The Zaldívar copper mine in Chile, a joint venture between Antofagasta and Barrick, will be able to replace greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 350,000 tonnes per year, or about 87,000 vehicles annually.
Company now expects to produce between 705,000-725,000 tonnes this year, down from the earlier 705-740,000 tonnes target.
Ivan Arriagada, chief executive of Antofagasta, said he expected copper prices to be affected by global uncertainty.
Chilean copper producer Antofagasta said first-half core earnings fell 16.2 percent from a year earlier.
Production in the second-quarter of the year jumped 6.1% to 163,200 tonnes, as higher output at its Centinela and Antucoya mines mitigated declines at Los Pelambres and Zaldívar.
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The miner said it would take up to three months for stocks to return to normal, which will affect both projected output and sales in the six months ending June 30.
Copper production fell to 153,800 tonnes from 171,900 tonnes, due mostly to lower grades at the company's Centinela and Los Pelambres mines.
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The miner believes a tightening global supply of copper will keep prices on the high-end of the spectrum this year and next.
Miner said country offers more favourable conditions to start new projects than Chile, where Antofagasta has majority stakes in four copper mines and has just opened a new one — Antucoya.
Zaldívar produced 102,000 tonnes of copper in 2016.
Zaldívar produced more than 100,000 tonnes of copper last year.
The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) said Pakistan violated several provisions of its bilateral investment treaty with Australia, where the joint venture between Barrick and Antofagasta is incorporated.
The company expects demand to increase 3% this year, while no new mines are scheduled to come online in the short-term and supply disruptions continue.
Chile's environmental regulator has drawn up nine charges against the copper mine for mismanaging water resources and nearby flora.