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Peruvian miner Las Bambas upbeat on 2022 copper output

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Peruvian miner Las Bambas is optimistic about its copper output this year despite social protests having halted its operations for 50 days in southern Peru in April-June and delays in opening a new pit.

After resuming activity at its Las Bambas mine in Apurímac region, the company has made an upward revision to its 2020 production guidance despite delays in the start of operations at the new Chalcobamba pit, which will now not begin until next year. 

The Las Bambas mine produced more than 80,000t of copper in 3Q22 and the company now expects total output for the year to reach 250,000t, up from the 240,000t forecast at the end of the first half of the year.

"In the general forecast, we assumed that the Chalcobamba pit [would be operating] in 4Q22, but in reality there will be no contribution from that unit this year," said Wei Jian Xian, general manager of MMG Las Bambas.

Once Chalcobamba comes online, copper production at Las Bambas is expected to range between 380,000t/y and 400,000t/y.

"The good news is that we have started discussions with the Huancuire community about access. Developments will depend on how those talks progress and if we reach an agreement. It will take time to get the necessary infrastructure in place and mobilize contractors," said Troy Hey, executive general manager of MMG, the Melbourne-based unit of state-owned China Minmetals Corp that controls 62.5% of Minera Las Bambas.

The Huancuire community insists on being shareholders of the mining company, despite the fact that Las Bambas and the community reached a purchase agreement in 2013, and that community even received additional compensation in 2017.

AGREEMENTS

Las Bambas has now reached agreements with four of the six communities in its area of influence. 

"Our dialogue with the remaining communities – Fuerabamba and Huancuire – continues to advance. This process has been extended until the end of December, and we remain optimistic that we can reach agreements by that date," said Liangang Li, interim CEO of MMG, in a statement. 

According to MMG executives, negotiations with the communities are based on previously established agreements. 

"We are taking advantage of the agreements to improve existing relations, especially with the community of Pumamarca. This will allow us to access some lands that interest us in said community to carry out mining exploration," Hey added.

FIGURES

Las Bambas has been reducing the impact of the stoppages in 2Q22 after having operated almost without any interruptions in the last quarter. After reporting a 30% year-on-year drop in production in the first six months of the year, production for the first nine months was down only 19%, as output climbed to 81,000t of copper in 3Q22 from 32,000t in 2Q22, according to the latest company report.

Copper production for the first nine months of the year was 182,000t, meaning that Las Bambas will have to produce around 70,000t in the fourth quarter to reach the target. 

Peru accounts for more than 83% of the copper production of the MMG group, which also has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Australia.

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