Thursday 23 January 2020 8:36 am

Anglo American boosts production despite copper slump

Mining giant Anglo American shook at water shortages at its copper mine in Chile to post a four per cent increase in production in the fourth quarter.

Output from the Los Bronces mine slumped 28 per cent, which pulled the group’s overall coper production down around 13 per cent.

However, strong performance of 6.2m tonnes at the company’s Minas-Rio iron ore mine in Brazil helped offset the shortage, as did an 11 per cent increase in coal production.

The miner in December received the final operating licence it needs to boost production at its Minas-Rio iron ore mine in Brazil to its full capacity of 26.5m tonnes a year.

Chief executive Mark Cutifani said: “We have delivered our full year production targets across the business.”

Impressively, Anglo American seem to have shaken off a number of problems that have afflicted rivals such as BHP.

Despite extensive protests in Chile in October, the firm’s operations in the country largely maintained production throughout the autumn, despite road blockades and strike action.

However, ongoing droughts have led to water shortages at the flagship Los Bronces project.

The firm also managed to limit damage from Australia’s bushfires, which had caused a slump in BHP’s coal production in the final quarter.

The miner also showed an increase in production of palladium and platinum, two metals that are crucial for cleaning vehicle emissions and “the subject of the hottest bull market in commodities today”, said Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity.

“The price of palladium, a key input for catalytic converters, has soared to the extent that the exhaust systems of old Priuses might now be worth more than the car itself. Investors see Anglo as a great second-hand way to play this theme and the shares have risen ten-fold in four years”, he added.

Anglo American said that its guidance remains in line with last year’s forecasts.

Earlier this week the company tabled a £405m bid for UK miner Sirius Minerals, marking its entry into the potash market.