Chilean copper miner Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) saw production for the three months ended in December fall by 5.8% as a result of massive protests against inequality in the South American country and issues affecting its flagship Los Pelambres mine and the Antucoya project.
The company, which had already been forced to cut its production forecast for 2019, said copper output dropped to 185,000 tonnes in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 197,000 in the previous quarter.
In addition to disruption of fuel deliveries to its flagship Los Pelambres mine, which accounts for nearly half of Antofagasta’s total copper production, output in the last quarter was hurt by planned lower grades, maintenance at Centinela and a strike at Antucoya.
Despite the series of issues affecting operations, 2019 was a good one for the miner, which churned out a record 770,000 tonnes of copper, at the top end of its revised guidance. The figure compares with the 725,300 tonnes it generated in 2018, thanks mainly to higher production at Los Pelambres, Centinela and Zaldívar mines, the company said.
This year, Antofagasta expects to produce between 725,000 and 755,000 tonnes of copper, between 180,000 ounces and 200,000 ounces of gold, and 12,500 to 14,000 tonnes of molybdenum.
Copper prices fell to a two-week low of $6,128 a tonne on Wednesday as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak, generated in China — the world’s largest consumer of the industrial metal — climbed to nine, with 440 confirmed cases.