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Glencore full-year coal, copper output up

12th February 2013

By: Idéle Esterhuizen

  

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Commodities trader Glencore, which is merging with global diversified miner Xstrata in a $36-billion deal, on Tuesday reported a 104% increase in its thermal coal production for 2012 to 41.8-million tons, compared with the 20.5-million tons produced the year before.

The group noted that own production at its South African coal operations was 27.1-million tons, reflecting a significant increase on the output of 5.9-million tons in 2011. This increase largely resulted from the consolidation of production from Optimum Coal and Umcebo Mining from January.

Glencore noted that expansion and development projects at the South African coal operations were progressing well. The Wonderfontein project at Umcebo started production and railed its first coal in December.

The definitive feasibility studies relating to the Springboklaagte and Argent projects remained on track to be completed in April.

At Optimum Coal, construction had started on the Pullenshope underground brownfield project, with first coal expected in the second quarter of this year.

Further, production at Glencore’s Prodeco operations in South America also rose 1% to 14.8-million tons for the year, with significant growth at the Calenturitas operations offset by lower output at the La Jagua mine, owing to a three-month strike, which concluded in October.

COPPER
The group further reported that its own total contained copper output increased by 4% to 376 700 t for the year, compared with 362 600 t in 2011.

Glencore’s 75.2%-owned copper/cobalt mining company Katanga Mining, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), produced 93 000 t of copper from own sources form its copper/cobalt mining complex, a 2% increase on that of 2011.

But, cobalt production during the year was 2 100 t, a 12% decrease compared to 2011, owing to 67 days of lost production resulting from the recurrent general power disruptions in the DRC.

Katanga produced its first copper cathode from its new solvent extraction plants and converted electrowinning facility during December as part of its Updated Phase 4 expansion that would take production to 310 000 t/y by 2015.

The completion of this project would enable Katanga to increase total processing capacity and upgrade the quality of copper. Glencore said the Phase 4 project remained on target for mechanical completion in the third quarter of this year.

Further, copper and cobalt producer Mutanda, also in the DRC and 60% owned by Glencore, produced 87 000 t of copper from own sources, a 37% increase compared with 2011, while copper cathode production during the year increased 90% to 83 500 t.

Cobalt production amounted to 8 500 t, an 8% increase from 2011. The feasibility study for the construction of a 100 000 t sulphide concentrator remained on track to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

At Kansuki, Glencore’s 37.5%-owned copper and cobalt predevelopment project, $507-million of capital expenditure for mine and plant development had been committed to.

Mutanda, Katanga and Kansuki were collectively undertaking a $284-million project to secure power for all three operations through the refurbishment of two turbines at the Inga dam. The project was expected to provide 450 MW of power by the end of 2015.

The project had started and was being executed in partnership with the DRC’s national electricity company Société nationale d'électricité and civil engineering company Entreprise Générale Malta Forrest.

At the Murrin Murrin nickel/cobalt operation, in Australia, which is 100%-owned by Glencore, record output of 33 400 t of nickel and 2 400 t of cobalt was reached in 2012, an increase of 17% and 18% respectively compared with the previous year.

COMBINED OUTPUT
Meanwhile, Glencore highlighted that the combined Glencore–Xstrata coal output for 2012 was 26% higher at 132.2-million tons, compared with 104.8-million in the previous year.

Xstrata on Tuesday reported total consolidated coal output of 90.4-million tons for 2012.

However, the total combined contained copper output of the two companies for the year was down 9% to 1.2-million tons, compared with 1.3-million tons in 2011.

Total combined ferrochrome output for the year was down 8%, gold output 8% lower, platinum production down 13% and zinc production down 1%.

Total combined nickel output increased by 3% and lead by 4%.

Glencore reiterated that the completion of its merger with Xstrata remained conditional on the receipt of the outstanding regulatory approval in China, the completion of the Xstrata court process, and Glencore giving effect to the commitments required by the European Commission.

The long stop date for the merger was March 15.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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