Xstrata copper volumes down, but sees growth

 
City A.M. Reporter
Miner Xstrata reported an 18 per cent drop in copper volumes in the first six months of 2012, as it replaces ageing operations and undertakes expansion that will boost production in the second half.

Xstrata is in the throes of a merger with commodities trader Glencore, which made a $26bn (£16.57bn) takeover bid for the miner earlier this year. Glencore, Xstrata's top shareholder, is currently locked in talks with rival investor Qatar Holdings over the terms of the proposed deal.

Xstrata, the world's fourth-largest copper miner, said production of the red metal dropped to 354,612 tonnes from 434,046 tonnes a year ago.

It was hit by the transition from mines like the Ernest Henry open pit in Australia to new mines and expansion projects. It was also dented by lower recoveries at the world's third-largest copper mine, Collahuasi, jointly owned with Anglo American,hit by poor weather, safety stoppages and a broken ball mill.

Mined coal, a key earner for Xstrata along with copper, saw consolidated production rise 13 per cent to 43.4m tonnes in the first half, as volumes for both thermal and coking coal improved in the second quarter in relation to the first.

Nickel rose 3 per cent year-on-year to 52,800 tonnes. Zinc, in which Xstrata will become the world's top player following the Glencore tie-up, was flat.