How Brazil's top 3 copper miners performed in 2016

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Brazil's top three copper miners produced an estimated 497,889t of the metal in 2016, up from 473,320t a year before.

Brazil produced 509,506t of copper in 2015, making it the world's 15th largest producer, according to the latest available data from the country's minerals production department DNPM.

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1. Vale 445,500t 

Vale's copper production (excluding African operations) reached an all-time record of 445,500t, up 7.6% over 2015, mainly due to the strong performances of Brazil's Salobo (pictured) and Canada's Sudbury.

"Production of copper in concentrate at Sossego totaled 22,500t in 4Q16, 6.6% lower than in 3Q16 due to lower ore grades being processed at the mill," Vale said in its latest production report.

Production of copper in concentrate at Salobo reached a quarterly record of 49,800t in the quarter, 12.4% and 18.6% higher than in 3Q16 and 4Q15, respectively. Salobo achieved a monthly production record of 17,449t of copper in concentrate in December, Vale said.

Production of copper from Sudbury reached a record 32,200t, 8.4% and 2.9% higher than in 3Q16 and 4Q15, respectively. Production was higher as the smelter and matte processing operations consumed previously accumulated inventory as planned, according to the report. 

2. Yamana 52,389t 

Copper production at Yamana's polymetallic Chapada operation in Brazil fell 12% to 116Mlb (52,389t) compared to 131Mlb in 2015.

"Output was impacted by the operating challenges experienced at Chapada in the second quarter ... including a mechanical failure with its in-pit gyratory crusher and weather related issues which made access to high-grade ore more difficult," the Toronto-based company said in an earnings release.

"Total cost of sales for copper in 2016 was US$1.93/lb sold, compared to US$1.71/lb sold in 2015. Co-product cash costs for 2016 were US$1.58/lb of copper produced from the Chapada mine, compared to US$1.47/lb of copper produced in the same period of 2015, representing a 7% increase." 

3. Mineração Caraíba 

Mineração Caraíba produced no copper in 2016. Output last year was interrupted on January 17 after one of the company's mines was flooded, Caraíba spokesperson Rafael Cerqueira told BNamericas on Wednesday.

After the incident, the company decided to temporarily close its mines in June.

But Caraíba resumed operations January 7, after being acquired by Canadian company Ero Copper Corp in an undisclosed deal.

"Our mine operations resumed at full steam [after the acquisition], and we hit record-high copper production in February and March," Cerqueira said, without unveiling the output figures.

Caraíba operates the Vermelhos, Suçuaruna and Angicos copper mines in Bahia state and Boa Esperança in Pará state.

The company acquired Boa Esperança in October 2007 for more than US$80mn from Chilean state-owned red metal miner Codelco.

The company also owns the underground Caraíba operation. The mines started operating in June 2010.