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Copper Mountain cuts targets amid market rout, virus fears

Copper Mountain mine, in southern British Columbia, is the company’s flagship asset. (Image courtesy of Copper Mountain Mining.)

Canada’s Copper Mountain Mining (TSX: CMMC) (ASX: C6C) became on Tuesday the latest company to adjust plans due to ongoing markets collapse and near-term copper price uncertainty as a result of the rapidly spreading coronavirus panic.

The Vancouver-based miner has revised its mine plan and schedule for its flagship asset, the Copper Mountain project in British Columbia, deferring a $22 million capital spend by delaying the installation of the third ball mill.

It now expects to produce between 86 and 94 million pounds of copper this year, down from a previous estimate of 100-113 million pounds

The company has also cut mining rates by about 25% to between 120,000 and 160,000 tonnes per day for the remainder of 2020, down from 200,000 t/d as part of a series of measures to reduce operating costs.

Copper Mountain Mining now expects to produce between 86 and 94 million pounds of copper during 2020, down from a previous estimate of between 100 and 113 million pounds.

“In periods of low metal prices such as today, we will be disciplined and orderly in our development and take a prudent approach to cash management,” president and chief executive, Gil Clausen, said in the statement. “We will not sacrifice the future of our mine by high-grading and deferring stripping that builds a liability in the future.”

Clausen noted that while the existing mine plan was sustainable longer term at current low copper prices, the company believed it was better to protect cash flow, adding that he expected prices to recover soon.

The news comes barely days after the company’s investor relations manager, Dan Gibbons, said Copper Mountain was on track to triple 2019 production in the next two years to reach more than 215,000 pounds annually.

Other than its open-pit project in BC, the dual-listed miner owns the permitted, development-stage Eva copper project in Queensland, Australia, and a 4,000 km2 prospective land package in the nearby Mount Isa area.