A drastic fall in output at Chile’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine and majority owned by global miner BHP Billiton, as well as ongoing strikes at Freeport-McMoRan copper operations and weather disruptions have hit copper output and are set to keep the market in deficit this year.
But Xstrata executives said it expected to increase its market share and benefit from having invested through the 2008 crisis, giving it a head start on equipment ordering, from a portfolio of new projects and from good relations with local governments as a result of continued investment, helping it to keep working.
The miner said earlier that it had increased its resource base at Las Bambas and Corroccohuayco projects in Peru and El Pachon in Argentina.
“We do have an edge... we are one of the few companies that continues to operate in Peru at the moment... In Argentina we operated through some pretty difficult political periods,” Charlie Sartain, head of Xstrata Copper, the company’s largest division, said at an investor presentation.
“Plus, the portfolio of projects and operations that we have enables us to pick the winners, and identify those projects that we think are going to have the best chance of progressing.”
In 2011, Xstrata has boosted contained copper in its mineral resources by 10 per cent to 97m tonnes. It is aiming for more than a 50 per cent rise to 1.5m tonnes per year by the end of 2014.