The 2015 full-year production of Anglo American increased by 5% on a copper equivalent basis, despite lower iron-ore and thermal coal contributions from South Africa and a flat performance by platinum.
The London- and Johannesburg-listed diversified mining company said in a production report last week that the group’s overall output on a copper equivalent basis in the three months to December 31 was up 3% on the previous quarter.
But iron-ore production from Kumba Iron Ore decreased by 12% to 10.9-million tonnes as a result of the Sishen mine pit transitioning to a lower cost configuration, export thermal coal production falling 21% to 7.7-million tonnes on strikes in South Africa, inclement weather affecting production at Cerrejón, in Colombia, platinum production remaining flat at 598 000 oz and diamond production decreasing by 16% to 7.1-million carats, in line with De Beers’ decision to lower production in response to adverse trading conditions.
South Africa produced 19% less export thermal coal at 3.9-million tonnes and coal produced for Eskom fell 26% to 5.5-million tonnes on lower demand from the State power utility, as well as safety stoppages at the New Denmark coal mine.
The production of manganese ore fell 32% on South32’s temporary suspension of operations at the Wessels and Mamatwan mines, in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, after a fatal incident in November and manganese alloy production fell 46% on the suspension of three of the four furnaces at Metalloys in South Africa, owing to poor market conditions.
Lifting overall production performance were an 11% increase in the export of metallurgical coal to 5.5-million tonnes in Australia, a 23% increase in copper production to 181 400 t on higher grades, better throughput and improved metal recoveries, a 57% increase in nickel output to 10 500 t, a 23% increase in niobium production to 1 600 t in South America and a fourfold iron-ore increase to 3.3-million tonnes at Minas-Rio, in Brazil, while the production of phosphates concentrate production remained unchanged and fertiliser production increased 6% on good granulation plant performance.
Platinum production from Anglo American Platinum’s own mines and tailings retreatment activities increased by 9 000 oz to 398 000 oz on higher production from Amandelbult, in the North West province, and Unki, in Zimbabwe, which was offset partially by lower production from Union and Rustenburg. Refined platinum production rose 30% to 745 000 oz.
The low-cost, efficient Mogalakwena mine, in Limpopo province, marked time at 98 000 oz in the quarter, Amandelbult upped its output by 14% to 121 000 oz and Unki output rose 19% to 19 000 oz on improved mining efficiencies and plant performance.
At Debswana, in Botswana, diamond production dropped 21% to 4.7-million carats, as fewer tonnes were treated at Jwaneng and Orapa, while production at De Beers Consolidated Mines, in South Africa, rose marginally to 1.5-million carats, despite an output decline at the flagship Venetia operation.
Voorspoed, in the Free State, and Kimberley Mines, in the Northern Cape, both increased production, while output at Namdeb Holdings, in Namibia, fell 18% to 0.4-million carats on lower-grade areas.
Diamond production in Canada fell 8% to 0.4-million carats and rough diamond sales volumes in the quarter were 3.6-million carats, compared with 3.0-million carats in the previous quarter, reflecting weaker trading conditions and higher pipeline stocks
that impacted on the midstream.
The Sishen iron-ore mine, in the Northern Cape, was 17% down at 7.7-million tonnes, while the new Kolomela produced 5% more at 2.9 million tonnes.