Anglo American: PGM refined production more than doubled

Anglo American in its Production Report for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2021 outlines the following highlights:

  • Rough diamond production increased by 15%, principally from Jwaneng in Botswana as well as in Namibia, reflecting planned higher production in response to strong consumer demand.
  • Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) operations more than doubled refined production in the quarter, and resulted in a record full year refined production of 5.1Moz. This has substantially reduced work-in-progress inventory, and resulted in a 62% increase in co-product nickel production for the full year to 22,300 tonnes. Together with its primary nickel output, group total nickel production reached 64,000 tonnes in 2021, a 12% increase year-on-year.
  • Metallurgical coal production increased by 5%, reflecting an increase in production at the Dawson open cut operation, partially offset by Moranbah which continues to be affected by areas of challenging geology.
  • Copper operations’ full year production was in line with the prior year, mitigating the ongoing water challenges from the severe drought conditions.
  • Full year iron ore production increased by 3%, although lower in the quarter, despite unplanned maintenance at Minas-Rio and third party rail performing below planned levels affecting Kumba’s production for the year.
  • Anglo American 2021 Climate Change Report was published in October, setting out clear pathways to carbon neutral operations by 2040 and our ambition to reduce Scope 3 emissions by 50%, also by 2040.
  • Completed sale of the 33% interest in Cerrejon on 11 January 2022: final stage of company’s exit from thermal coal operations.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “Our production was broadly flat compared to Q4 of 2020, with our operating levels at approximately 95% of normal capacity through the year, largely due to the ongoing Covid related effects on the operating environment.

Production in the fourth quarter benefited from higher rough diamond production at De Beers, a return to pre-Covid production levels at our open cut metallurgical coal mines and improved mining performance at Amandelbult which resulted in higher metal in concentrate production from our PGMs business. At our copper operations, Collahuasi’s production increased as a result of strong plant performance and planned maintenance in the comparable period of 2020.

“As we move into 2022, we are pleased with the construction progress at Quellaveco, our new copper mine in Peru. We are on track and within budget, we mined our first ore in October 2021, and we are expecting our first production of copper concentrate in the middle of this year. In the first quartile of the cost curve, we expect Quellaveco to produce 120,000-160,000 tonnes of copper production in 2022 and to average 300,000 tonnes per year for the first ten years at full production.”

PRODUCTION OUTLOOK SUMMARY

2022 production guidance is summarised as follows:

Diamonds                                      30-33 Mct  

Copper                                           680-760 kt  

Platinum Group Metals              4.1-4.5 Moz  

Iron Ore                                         63-67 Mt  

Metallurgical Coal                       20-22 Mt  

Nickel                                             40-42 kt  

EXPLORATION AND EVALUATION

Exploration and evaluation expenditure increased by 26% to $102 million. Exploration expenditure increased by 47% to $47 million driven, by increased activity in copper, nickel, PGMs and iron ore, reflecting recovery from the Covid-19 disruptions in Q4 2020, in most drilling locations. Evaluation expenditure increased by 12% to $55 million, with increased spend in PGMs and metallurgical coal.

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