Antofagasta PLC conditionally keeps copper production guidance for the year

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Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) said its copper production and costs in the first quarter were in line with guidance as it reported a 5.7% decline in output due to anticipated lower grades at its Los Pelambres mine.

The Chilean miner produced 183,000 tonnes of copper in the first quarter and conditionally retained its full-year guidance of 730-760,000 tonnes.

“Production, cost and capital expenditure guidance for the full year is unchanged, assuming no additional nationwide restrictions are imposed due the pandemic,” said chief executive Iván Arriagada.

Last month, Chile entered a second wave of COVID-19 infections as the number of cases in the country accelerated, reaching record daily cases since the outbreak of the pandemic. As a result, countrywide lockdowns were reinstated.

“In addition to the health measures we introduced last year we have further reduced our on-site workforce and these actions have allowed us to continue to operate our mines and projects under these challenging conditions.

“Additional testing has been introduced throughout the croup while the full benefit of the country’s successful vaccination programme is expected to be realised later in the year.”

Chile has fully vaccinated almost a third of its population, making it the world’s second-best performing country based on the share of the population that have received all doses, according to Our World in Data.

Major maintenance at Los Pelambres originally planned for the second quarter and which requires a large number of additional workers on-site is under review, because of the rise in COVID cases, so that some of the non-critical activities can be rescheduled to later in 2021, the company said.

“The copper market continues to perform strongly, and we expect this to continue as structural supply and demand dynamics support a tight physical market,” said Arriagada.

Gold production fell 9.2% from the year-earlier quarter to 59,100 ounces mainly due to changes in grade at Centinela, while molybdenum output jumped 25% to 3,000 tonnes.

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