Glencore’s 1H 2019 Copper Production Falls 5%, Cobalt Production Rises 28%

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Miner Glencore on Wednesday released a mixed batch of production results for the first half of 2019.

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The miner reported copper production fell 5% compared with the first half of 2018, falling to 663,000 tons.

The miner attributed the drop to several factors, including the open-cut depletion of its Alumbrera mine in Argentina and sale of its Punitaqui mine in Chile last year, which combined for a production hit of 15,900 tons. It also cited rebricking work at its Kazzinc operation in Kazakhstan (an impact of 6,200 tons) and smelter outages at its Mopani operation in Zambia (a 5,000-ton impact).

Glencore’s full-year copper guidance came in at 1,025 kt (+/- 25), compared with 1,043 kt in 2018.

“I am pleased to report a solid performance from our underlying base business, where our key assets in copper, coal, zinc and nickel performed largely in line with our expectations,” CEO Ivan Glasenberg said. “However, our African copper business did not meet expected operational performance. We have moved to address the challenges at Katanga with several management changes as well as overseeing a detailed operational review, targeting multiple improvements to achieve consistent, cost-efficient production at design capacity.”

Meanwhile, cobalt production of 21,300 tons marked a 28% increase on a year-over-year basis. Glencore attributed the increase to improved recoveries at its Mutanda operation and technical improvements at Katanga.

“Katanga continues to apply technical solutions, which seek to maximise cobalt hydroxide production within acceptable uranium limits resulting in approximately 3,600 tonnes (59%) of the 6,100 tonnes produced in H1 2019 being below such limits,” Glencore said.

Zinc production rose 8% to 535,900 tons, aided by increased production at its Lady Loretta and McArthur River operations in Australia.

However, zinc sales fell short of production due to flooding in Australia.

“Own sourced sales during H1 2019 were 59kt lower than production, due to timing of shipments following flooding in North Queensland that damaged rail infrastructure,” Glencore said.

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Nickel production fell 11% to 55,400 tons, partially on account of maintenance issues at its Murrin and Koniambo operations.

Coal production jumped 10% to 68.2 million tons, but own-sourced sales came in 3 million tons short of production due to “timing of sales.”

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