Chile's copper output falls in March on Escondida strike

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Copper production in Chile fell 23.5% year-on-year to 372,500t in March, as the world's largest producing country felt the effects of the 43-day strike at BHP Billiton's giant Escondida mine.

Compared sequentially, copper was up from 370,900t in February, according to state copper commission Cochilco. Output for the first three months of the year was down 14.6% to 1.19Mt.

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Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, saw no production in March compared to 91,900t in the same month last year. Production in Q1 was down 63.4% to 97,100t.

State copper giant Codelco posted an 11.4% year-on-year drop in output to 416,300t in January-March. Production at its Chuquicamata-Radomiro Tomic-Ministro Hales complex fell 10.8% to 189,800t, while output at its smallest mine, Salvador, was down 10% to 13,500t and El Teniente's dropped 20.6% to 101,500t.

Production at Codelco's Andina rose 11.6% to 57,700t in the three-month period, while its Gabriela Mistral division reported a 7.8% decline to 27,300t.

Collahuasi (pictured), a JV between Anglo American and Glencore and Chile's second largest copper mine, reported a 12.8% increase to 131,000t in Q1, while production at Antofagasta Minerals' Los Pelambres rose 0.9% to 85,900t. Output at Lundin Mining's Candelaria was down 7.3% to 31,600t.

Anglo American Sur reported an 11% decline to 84,900t, while output at the Zaldívar mine, jointly controlled by Antofagasta and Barrick Gold, grew 5.2% to 26,100t.

El Abra, controlled by Freeport McMoRan with a 51% stake and 49% owned by Codelco, saw production decline 31.7% to 19,400t. Output at BHP's Spence was up 24.1% to 49,400t but at its Cerro Colorado operation production was down 16.5% to 16,700t.

Teck Resources' Quebrada Blanca saw output fall 21.6% to 6,900t in the quarter, while production at Glencore's Lomas Bayas mine rose 10.3% to 20,300t. Production at Mantos Copper's joint Mantoverde and Mantos Blancos mines was down 22.8% to 20,000t.



Chilean molybdenum production rose 7.16% year-on-year to 5,011t in March, Cochilco said in a separate report. Output for the first three months was down 5.1% to 13,949t.

Codelco's molybdenum output fell 6.6% to 6,711t in January-March, mainly because of a 25.5% decline at its El Teniente mine, which offset 12.8% growth at Salvador.

Los Pelambres produced 2,172t, up 28.5% from January-March 2016. Collahuasi's molybdenum output fell 76.2% to 182t, while Anglo American Sur reported a 38.9% drop to 468t.

Combined production at the Caserones, Sierra Gorda and Valle Central operations was 4,416t in Q1, up 2.9%.



Chilean gold production fell 24.6% year-on-year to 2,709kg (87,106oz) in March, while silver output was 33.7% lower at 88,945kg, the state agency said separately.

Gold output for the first three months was down 22.2% to 8,298kg, while silver production fell 26.2% to 283,385kg.