Anglo America, the diversified mining company, experienced a 7% decrease in overall production during the fourth quarter of 2023. This decline was largely expected and can be attributed to a planned slowdown at its iron ore operations and the challenges faced by one of its main copper mines. The company maintains its forecast of a 4% decline in output for the year 2024 and remains confident in its full-year guidance for all its assets.
Copper production saw a 6% decrease, with Chile’s production taking the largest hit. The decrease of 16% in Chile was mainly driven by the Los Bronces mine, which faced lower grades and harder ore. However, this decline was offset by higher production from Quellaveco in Peru.
Interestingly, Quellaveco achieved significant growth, with production increasing by 14% to 93,700 tons. This quarter marked its highest production since reaching commercial production in June 2023, reflecting improved throughput and production levels.
In contrast, Los Bronces experienced a 32% decrease in production, amounting to 57,200 tons. The lower grades and continued hardness of the ore in the current mining area were the primary drivers of this decline. However, operations are expected to improve once the next phase of the mine begins, as the grades are anticipated to be higher and the ore softer.
Collahuasi, another copper mine located in Chile, saw a positive growth of 14% in attributable production, achieving a total of 71,700 tons. On the other hand, El Soldado mine’s production, also situated in Chile, faced a significant decline of 52%, amounting to 7,300 tons.
Iron Ore Production:
Anglo America’s iron ore production recorded a decrease of 12%, falling to 13.8 million tons. This decline can be attributed to a planned slowdown in production at the Kumba mine in South Africa, which experienced a 27% decrease due to logistical constraints. However, this decline was partially offset by a remarkable 15% increase in production at the Minas-Rio mine in Brazil, driven by its outstanding quarterly performance.
Notably, Minas-Rio achieved a record quarterly performance with a 15% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.
Platinum Group Metals:
The production of platinum group metals (PGMs) operations was 6% lower in comparison to the previous period. This decrease was primarily caused by the planned ramp-down of operations at the Kroondal mine, which has since been sold. Additionally, lower production at the Amandelbult mine in South Africa was influenced by planned infrastructure closures.
In conclusion, Anglo America faced anticipated challenges in Q4 2023, resulting in a 7% decline in overall production. Nevertheless, the company maintains its projections for a 4% decline in output for 2024 and remains steadfast in its full-year guidance for all its assets. The varying performances of their copper, iron ore, and platinum group metals operations shed light on the complex dynamics of the mining industry.
Amandelbult: A Decrease in Production
Production at Amandelbult experienced a 15% decrease, amounting to 149,900 ounces. This decline, however, was tempered by positive developments in other locations.
Unki Mine: Strong Growth
In contrast, Unki Mine in Zimbabwe witnessed a notable 17% increase in production, reaching 61,800 ounces. This growth was driven by enhanced throughput and an uptick in grade.
Mogalakwena: Steady Progress
Mogalakwena Mine in South Africa also experienced a modest 3% increase in production, totaling 265,300 ounces. This improvement was linked to the mine’s transition into a higher-grade and lower-waste area.
Rough diamond production faced a slight 3% decline. The decrease was primarily planned, as Venetia in South Africa underwent a transition into underground operations. However, this reduction was partially offset by increased production from Botswana.
Botswana Shines Brightly
Botswana witnessed a commendable 6% rise in production, totaling 6.1 million carats. This increase showcases the country’s strong diamond mining performance.
Conversely, Namibia experienced a 4% decline in diamond production, resulting in 0.6 million carats. This decline highlights the challenges faced by the sector in this particular region.
South Africa and Canada: Mixed Results
South Africa encountered a noteworthy 54% decrease in diamond production, amounting to 0.4 million carats. In Canada, the decline was more moderate at 3%, equating to 0.8 million carats.
Steelmaking Coal Update
Steady Growth with Challenges
The production of steelmaking coal witnessed a modest increase of 2%, reaching 4.8 million tons. This growth was primarily driven by the consistent performance of the Aquila underground longwall operation and improved efficiency at Grosvenor, despite challenging operating conditions. However, ongoing difficulties with strata conditions at Moranbah offset some of the positive strides made.
Unit Cost Considerations
The steelmaking coal full-year 2023 unit cost stood at $121 per ton, surpassing the guidance by $6 per ton. This overage was influenced by lower-than-expected production from the higher fixed-cost underground operation at Moranbah.
Nickel Production Update
Nickel production saw a notable 9% increase, reaching 11,100 tons. This improvement can be attributed to enhanced operational stability.
Manganese ore production experienced a decline of 14%, resulting in 847,800 tons. This decrease was driven by lower yields at the Australian operation and decreased productivity at the South African operations. These factors posed challenges for manganese production.