Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) has continued the fourth quarter 2018 updates from the blue-chip miners by reporting a strong rise in copper production to record levels and forecasting another record year in 2019.
The Chile-based group said its fourth-quarter copper production rose 16.8% to a record 220,000 tonnes as a result of higher production at all operations, particularly at Centinela Concentrates which increased production by 68.3%
The FTSE 100-listed firm added that full-year production was at the top-end of revised guidance, up 3% to 725,300 tonnes due to higher production at Los Pelambres and Centinela.
It said gold production in the fourth quarter was 90,000 ounce, an 87.1% increase on the third quarter due to higher throughput, grades and recoveries at Centinela, with full-year gold production of 210,100 ounces also at the top end of guidance.
Antofagasta said group production in 2019 is expected to be a record year, estimating 750,000-790,000 tonnes of copper, 240,000-260,000 ounces of gold, and 11,500-12,500 tonnes of molybdenum.
The firm added that group cash costs in 2019, before and after by-product credits, were expected to be similar to 2018's at $1.70/lb and $1.30/lb respectively.
It said capital expenditure in the current year was expected to be $1bn, including the Los Pelambres expansion project, which will add 60,000 tonnes per annum to its copper output.
Iván Arriagada, Antofagasta’s CEO commented: "Reflecting our continued focus on costs our net cash costs for the quarter were $0.99/lb, the lowest since 2012, and for the year were only 3% higher than in 2017 despite average grades declining and cost pressure from rising input prices.”