Glencore maintenance at Mt Isa lowers Australian copper production

Glencore has recorded lower Australian copper production in the first quarter of 2018 due to maintenance at its Mt Isa operations in Queensland.

The company’s Australian copper production (own sourced) was down 13,400t to 47,800t, a 23 per cent drop that was blamed on the timing of maintenance at the Mt Isa smelter.

Despite this, Glencore’s overall copper production was up year-over-year (YoY) at 345,000t, 21,300t higher than in Q1 2017.

The company, in its quarterly report, said that phase one of Katanga’s whole ore leach project, which started in December last year, was partly responsible for the jump, though this was offset slightly by the aforementioned Mt Isa smelter maintenance and the decline of the Alumbrera mine in Argentina.

Glencore also admits that issues arising from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-based copper-cobalt subsidiary Katanga Mining could “materially adversely” affect production.

Katanga Mining is in a legal dispute with DRC state-owned mining company Gecamines over a $3.9 billion capital shortfall at Katanga’s Kamoto Copper Company.

Glencore’s zinc, lead, gold, ferrochrome and silver production were down by 13, 17, 11, 7 and 11 per cent, respectively, but nickel and cobalt production were 21 and 11 per cent higher.

The nickel jump is, according to the company, reflective of the recent ramp-up at the Koniambo processing plant in New Caledonia, as well as strong performance at Murrin Murrin in Western Australia and the Intergrated Nickel Operations (INO) in Sudbury, Ontario.

Coal production was also largely in line with first quarter  2017 figures at 30.7Mt, down from 30.9Mt this time last year.  The slight decline was cited as being related to offsets from weather-related reductions at Australian operations as well as wholly-owned company Prodeco in Colombia, which was down 29 per cent YoY to 3Mt.

Domestic and export thermal coal figures were also up 50 and 11 per cent to 2.4Mt and 14.2Mt, respectively.

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