Escondida Mine Boosts Copper Production in Q1 Despite Quarterly Dip

Escondida Mine Boosts Copper Production in Q1 Despite Quarterly Dip

BHP has announced an 8% year-on-year increase in copper production at the Escondida mine, the largest copper deposit in Chile, during the first fiscal quarter of 2024, spanning July through September. The mine reported producing 273,000 tons of copper, although this number signifies a 7% decrease from the last quarter.

Higher Concentrator Feed Grade Spurs Production

The notable rise in production is primarily attributed to an improved concentrator feed grade, which stood at 0.85%, a slight increase from 0.83% in the same quarter of the previous year. BHP anticipates that the feed grade will hover between 0.85% and 0.90% throughout the 2024 fiscal year.

Stable Production Outlook

Despite these fluctuations, BHP’s production projections for the fiscal year have remained steady, expecting to yield between 1,080,000 and 1,180,000 tons of copper. Looking further ahead, the Escondida mine’s output for the subsequent two fiscal years, 2025 and 2026, is estimated to reach between 1.2 million and 1.3 million tons.

BHP’s Overall Copper Output on the Rise

In a broader context, BHP’s total copper production experienced a 12% upswing in the first quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. The Pampa Norte site, encompassing the Spence and Cerro Colorado mines, saw an 11% production increase year-on-year, and a 14% quarter-on-quarter rise, amounting to 78,000 tons.

Spence’s output surged by 19%, hitting a quarterly high due to enhanced concentrator throughput and recovery rates. However, Cerro Colorado’s production dipped by 26%, though its output projection has been adjusted upward.

Year-End Figures Show Steady Growth

BHP concluded its 2023 fiscal year with a 4.6% climb in copper production, totaling 1,344,000 tons, up from 1,285,000 tons in 2022. This increase is partly due to a 5% production boost at Escondida, which contributed 1,055,000 tons, and a modest 3% rise at Spence and Cerro Colorado.

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