JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner Anglo American on Tuesday reported a 4% year-on-year increase in total production on a copper equivalent basis in the first quarter ended March.
The company had a “solid start to 2018”, despite the suspension of operations at the Minas-Rio mine, in Brazil, CEO Mark Cutifani said.
Anglo reported higher diamond, copper, platinum, palladium, iron-ore and metallurgical coal production, but said thermal coal and nickel output decreased.
Total thermal coal production fell by 23% to 11.95-million tonnes, with export production from South Africa dropping by 9% to 4.3-million tonnes in the quarter, despite productivity improvements at the Zibulo and Greenside collieries, owing to lower volumes at Goedehoop, with challenging geology in its remaining mining sections.
Thermal coal export production in Colombia decreased by 12% year-on-year to 2.4-million tonnes, while export production in Australia is down 56% year-on-year to 208 700 t.
Domestic thermal coal production in South Africa decreased by 34% to 4.97-million tonnes, primarily owing to the completion of the sale of State-owned Eskom-tied operations, including New Vaal, New Denmark and Kriel, to Seriti Coal, last month.
Domestic, non-Eskom production increased by 41% to 1.3-million tonnes.
Anglo produces metallurgical coal in Australia and increased production by 6% to 5.5-million tonnes, owing to continuing strong performance at the Moranbah mine and the ramp-up of the Grosvenor mine.
Rough diamond production at De Beers, which is 85% owed by Anglo, increased by 15% year-on-year to 8.5-million carats, reflecting a ramp-up in production in response to sustained healthy trading conditions and the inclusion of production from Gahcho Kué, in Canada.
De Beers Consolidated Mines’ production, in South Africa, was in line with the first quarter of 2017 at 1.1-million carats.
Debswana production increased by 12% to 5.8-million carats, with the Orapa mine delivering a 26% production gain to 2.8-million carats.
Namdeb’s production increased by 12% to 528 000 ct as a result of accessing consistently higher grades at the land-based operations.
Copper production, meanwhile, increased to 154 900 t, with strong operational performances at Los Bronces and Collahuasi, in Chile. Production from Los Bronces increased by 12% to 85 000 t, owing to a combination of strong mine and plant performance and an increase in ore grade. At Collahuasi attributable production increased by 5% to 60 600 t, underpinned by initiatives to improve plant performance, while production at El Soldado increased by 2% to 9 300 t.
Nickel production decreased by 13% year-on-year to 8 600 t, as a result of a planned 40-day stoppage to replace the rotary kilns refractories. The Barro Alto mine produced 6 500 t and the Codemin mine the balance.
The iron-ore segment delivered higher production from the South African operations, through Anglo’s JSE-listed subsidiary, Kumba Iron Ore, but a pipeline leakage at Minas-Rio negatively impacted on production from the Brazil operation.
Kumba increased production by 4% to 10.9-million tonnes. Output from Sishen decreased by 5% to 7.3-million tonnes, while Kolomela’s production jumped 26% to 3.5-million tonnes.
Minas-Rio’s output fell by 30% to 3-million tonnes, which Anglo attributes to the suspension of operations from March 12 and the planned progression into harder ore. The suspension of operations at Minas-Rio has resulted in Anglo slashing its full-year guidance of 13-million tonnes to 15-million tonnes to 3-million tonnes.
Anglo’s platinum and palladium production in South Africa increased. The company reported a 7% increase in platinum production to 613 800 oz and palladium production increased by 9% to 407 400 oz, owing to improved operational performances across the portfolio.