Wednesday 22 January 2020 1:26 pm

Antofagasta hails record production as it shrugs off strikes

Chilean mining giant Antofagasta hailed record production in 2019 despite unrest in Chile causing major disruptions to its projects in the country.

Copper production came in at the top end of the firm’s guidance at 770,000 tonnes, 6.2 per cent higher than last year.

Production did take a 5.8 per cent hit in the final quarter due to strikes at the Antucoya mine and fuel disruptions at Los Pelambres.

The strike, which lasted for 18 days, reduced production by approximately 4,000 tonnes, the firm said.

However, the London-listed firm said that the impact of the blockade was largely reversed over the rest of the quarter as higher grade ore than originally planned was processed.

Full year gold production was 282,300 ounces, which was both above the firm’s guidance and a 34.4 per cent increase on 2018.

In October Antofagasta narrowed its production targets amid protests in the capital Santiago for a guaranteed minimum wage and a higher state pension.

Chief executive Ivan Arriagada said that the firm had increased the minimum wage for employees and contractors to a level that is now two thirds higher than the national minimum wage.

He said that output for next year would be in line with October’s forecasts, with 725 – 755,000 tonnes of copper to be produced.

Gold production will also fall to 180 – 200,000 ounces of gold because of lower grades at its Centinela deposits.

Describing 2019 as a “good” year for the extractives giant, Arriagada set out his stall for 2020:

“Our purpose remains robust – developing mining for a better future – and this means making decisions with the understanding that our activities make an important contribution to developing the world of the future while also providing societal benefits to our host countries and local communities.”

Despite the update, shares in the company slipped over three per cent.