The company took time to reflect on its successful transition from developer to operator, completed on time and within budget.
It also noted that bauxite production in 2018 went as planned laying a proof-of-operational-concept given production guidance was met even with external challenges such as weather.
Addressing the AGM, Stephen Everett said: “I think it is fair to say Metro is on its way!
“We shipped over 2 million tonnes of bauxite in 2018 and we have announced upgraded production guidance to 3.5 million tonnes for this year.
“Since the beginning of this year we have:
▪ Finalised works to upgrade the mine site and transhipping facilities and mobilised necessary equipment & personnel to enable us to meet the 3.5 million tonne production target;
▪ Progressed the review of the DFS for the expansion to 6Mtpa. I expect the DFS will be released in the June quarter; and
▪ Shipped (under often difficult weather conditions) over 350,000 wmt of ore."
2019 production guidance confirmed
Earlier this year, Metro increased 2019 production guidance by 17% from 3.0 million wet metric tonnes (wmt) to 3.5 million wmt.
The 2019 production expansion brings forward improvements and upgrades included in Stage 2 Expansion, which aims to deliver 6.0 million wmt per annum steady-state by 2021.
The DFS for this expansion is expected to be released during this June quarter and epectations are for Stage 2 capex to be funded from internal cash flow and/or debt.
The company has also pleasingly already sold 75% of 2019 production.
Chinese bauxite imports at record level
China bauxite imports continue to increase with total 2018 imports exceeding 82 million wmt and 2019 is on track for over 90 million wmt.
This is being driven by strong demand from inland Chinese refineries coupled with domestic bauxite supply being impacted by resource depletion, recent mine closures and environmental audits.