Xstrata posts production records across the board

Xstrata has posted new production records for its thermal coal, nickel, and zinc operations, but says copper production has dropped 16 per cent.

In a production report for the 12 months to December, Xstrata said successful commissioning of the Ravensworth North, Ulan West and Ulan open cut projects had helped boost thermal coal production seven per cent higher to a record 90.4 million tonnes.

It also said the Australian zinc mines had posted a second consecutive year of record production due to productivity improvements, and expansions in Canada had helped boost refined nickel volumes to new highs.

Australian sites accounted for most of the company's bright spots, with operations in the Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin, and north-west Queensland all marked as key growth projects.

But while Australian thermal coal production hit record highs last year, coking coal production was down nine per cent.

“Increased production at Oaky Creek North was offset by engineering challenges with the new thin seam longwall at Oaky Creek No.1 mine,” the company said.

Total copper production was also down 16 per cent, with production at the Ernest Henry mine falling 66 per cent as the operation transitioned from open cut to underground mining.

Despite key divisions of the company posting record results, Xstrata has made a broad move to curb costs and reduce staff over the last six months.

Last week it annouced plans to take control of the Collinsville coal mine away from Thiess in order to force a stronger push toward profitability for the site.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.