Aim- and TSX-listed copper miner Atalaya Mining delivered earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of €34.4-million for the six months ended June 30, compared with €24.5-million in the first half of 2017, on the back of record production at the company’s Proyecto Riotinto project, in Spain.
Copper production was 19 887 t for the first half of the year, compared with 17 863 t in the first half of 2017 – an 11% increase. The second quarter production at Riotinto was 10 446 t, which was the second-highest quarterly production on record.
Copper recovery also increased slightly to an average 97.6% recovery rate, compared with 84.9% in the first half of 2017.
Fully diluted earnings a share for the first half of the year were €0.18 apiece, compared with €0.10 in the first half of 2017.
"The first half of 2018 has been very positive with record production levels, robust copper prices and operating costs within our stated guidance.
“The Proyecto Riotinto plant is operating well with recoveries at record levels during the period and our expansion plans are well on track. We are optimistic that the second half will continue to deliver results in line with our expectations,” Atalaya CEO Alberto Lavandeira commented on Wednesday.
The Proyecto Riotinto expansion project’s increase to 15-million tonnes a year is progressing on schedule, with engineering heading to completion and site construction activities picking up. Overall progress completion at the end of the second quarter was 41%; procurement has progressed to 38% completion; and engineering to 82% completion.
Earthworks are well advanced and are expected to be completed in the third quarter. Civil engineering works’ main activities are now concentrated on the new semi-autogenous grinding mill area.
Structural steel works are ongoing in the flotation area of the plant. Installation of mechanical equipment has started in the concentrate handling area. The milling area is the critical path to completion.
The expansion project is scheduled for mechanical completion at the end of the second quarter of 2019.
Meanwhile, permitting of the company’s 80%-owned Proyecto Touro brownfield copper project, in Spain, continues as anticipated with good progress made on addressing additional studies from the regional administration.
During the second quarter, efforts were concentrated on progressing detailed reports to address certain project improvements and recommendations from the public hearing process.
Atalaya completed a prefeasibility study (PFS) for the proposed openpit mine and concentrator at Proyecto Touro.
All current outstanding reports are expected to be submitted to the authorities before the end of the third quarter.
The PFS highlights include 392 000 t of contained copper, a possible yearly production of 30 000 t of copper and 70 000 oz of silver in concentrate, with a pre-production capital cost of $165-million.
Riotinto’s yearly operating guidance remains at 9.6-million tonnes processed, containing between 37 000 t and 40 000 t of copper, at an average grade of between 0.47% and 0.50%, with recovery rates between 84% and 86%.
Cash operating costs for 2018 are expected to be in the range of $2.15/lb to $2.30/lb, and all-in sustaining costs are estimated to be in the range of $2.50/lb to $2.60/lb.