Following a strong fourth quarter, Ero Copper (TSX: ERO; NYSE: ERO) boasts record annual production for 2022 at its Caraiba operations in Brazil’s northeastern Bahia state and its Xavantina operations in the country’s state of Mato Grosso.
Last year, Caraiba churned out 46,371 tonnes of copper concentrate, exceeding Ero Copper’s guidance of 43,000 to 46,000 tonnes. Of the 46,371 tonnes, 12,664 tonnes were produced in the fourth quarter. The company said the results in the final three months of 2022 benefited from the addition of high-grade stopes at the Honeypot project.
The Caraiba operations, located 385 km northwest of the state capital of Salvador are made up of the Pilar and Vermelhos underground mines and the Surubim open pit mine.
At Xavantina, formerly known as the NX gold mine, about 670 km east of the capital city of Cuiaba, production last year reached 42,669 oz. of gold, above the previous guidance of 39,000 to 42,000 ounces. Gold production in the fourth quarter was driven by higher processed grades of 10.2 grams gold per tonne, the company said, roughly a 20% increase in process grades from the previous quarter.
Ero Copper also issued guidance for 2023 and expects Caraiba to produce 44,000 to 47,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate at an average C1 cash cost of between $1.40 and $1.60 per lb. of copper produced.
Gold production is forecast to reach 50,000 to 53,000 oz. at average C1 cash costs of between $475 and $575 per ounce. All-in sustaining costs are expected to come in at between $725 and $825 per ounce.
The company also announced that it will spend about $150 million to $165 million on constructing its Tucuma project, previously known as the Boa Esperanca copper project, about 40 km southwest of the town of Tucuma in southeastern Para state.
An optimized feasibility study in September 2021 forecast an initial mine life of 12 years producing a total of 326,000 tonnes of recovered copper. In the first five years the study outlined average annual production of 35,000 tonnes at C1 cash costs of $1.12 per pound.
Construction at Tucuma got underway in the second quarter of last year.