Glencore to increase base metals production

A drilling crew at the George Fisher mine. Image: Glencore Mt Isa Mines

Diversified miner Glencore looks set to increase its Australian base metals production this year after the local operations mostly recorded falls in output during 2017.

Glencore, which yesterday released its 2017 production results, produced 230,000 tonnes (t) of copper in Australia last year, an 11 per cent decrease on its 2016 performance.

The lower output reflected the sale of a minority stake in the Ernest Henry mine in Queensland to Evolution Mining in late 2016 and smelter maintenance in the September quarter.

Meanwhile, Glencore’s zinc production was also 11 per cent lower, and its lead output down 16 per cent, due to expected falls at its Mount Isa operations in Queensland. The company produced 436,000t of zinc and 156,4000t of lead in Australia last year.

Glencore said the lower production reflected “general mine planning changes at Mount Isa and the impact of no longer processing Black Star ore.”

The miner’s fourth quarter output, however, increased overall compared with the third quarter in each of the base metals, indicating the company was on track to improve its production in 2018 as the operational issues have now been resolved.

Globally, Glencore has set its 2018 copper guidance at 1.465 million tonnes (Mt), which would be an improvement on the 1.31Mt produced in 2017. Its zinc guidance for 2018 is 1.09Mt, the same as what it produced in 2017, while lead has been forecast to reach 300,000t.

Glencore expects to see additional zinc production from the Lady Loretta mine in Queensland in 2018, with it scheduled to restart.

Its primary boost in copper production will come from the Katanga mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is also due to restart this year after being closed in 2015. Katanga will also bolster Glencore’s cobalt output.

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