Lundin poised for higher copper output at Candelaria

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lundin Mining expects higher copper output next year at its Candelaria mine in northern Chile's Atacama region (III).

The mine is expected to produce 145,000-150,000t of attributable copper in 2017, 131,000-136,000t in 2018 and 126,000-131,000t in 2019, the Toronto-based company said in its latest operational outlook report.

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The 2017 attributable production is 25,000t more than previous guidance and 17,500t greater than expected 2016 output. Gold and silver output is expected to provide significant byproduct credits.

"Optimization of the open pit life-of-mine plan and inclusion of additional volumes of higher grade underground ore has led to improvement in the forecast mine and mill head grade profiles over the next three and five-year periods," the report said.

Candelaria's C1 costs next year are projected to be US$1.20/lb after byproduct credits. C1 costs are expected to climb to US$1.25/lb in 2018 and US$1.55/lb in 2019, after which they are forecast to decline to US$1.50/lb in 2020 and US$1.40/lb in 2021.

Capex at Candelaria (pictured) over the next five years is expected to total US$700mn, of which US$165mn will be for construction of the Los Diques tailings dam, part of the company's Candelaria 2030 project aimed at extending the mine life until that year.

Company-wide copper output is expected to reach 202,000-216,000t in 2017, 189,000-203,000t in 2018 and 188-202,000t in 2019.

Exploration expenditures next year are projected at US$65mn, a 40% increase over 2016. The company plans to focus on "aggressive in-mine and near-mine exploration programs at Candelaria," and its other assets.

Lundin bought an 80% share in Candelaria from Freeport-McMoRan in October 2014 for US$2bn. The other 20% is held by Japan's Sumitomo.