Antofagasta Quarterly Production report – analysis

April 17, 2024by Ruth Smart

Antofagasta plc CEO, Iván Arriagada said“Production and cost performance at our mine sites over the quarter was in line with our expectations, with lower grades at Centinela during the period, and Los Pelambres product inventories increasing due to the extended concentrate pipeline maintenance and cleaning activities in February. This production, which is the equivalent of 27kt1 of copper in concentrate, has been rescheduled into future quarters. Furthermore, we continue to see the positive impact at Los Pelambres of the new desalination plant and fourth concentrator line on volumes. Full year guidance is unchanged, and the Company’s production profile is expected to increase quarter-on-quarter throughout the remainder of the year.

Copper production in Q1 2024 was 129,400 tonnes, 11% lower than Q1 2023, primarily due to lower grades and increased ore hardness at Centinela”

Guidance for the year remains unchanged. Group copper production for the full year is expected to be in the range of 670-710,000 tonnes, as quarterly production increases over the year.

Full report here https://www.antofagasta.co.uk/investors/news/2024/quarterly-production-report-q1-2024/

Analysis;

The drop in Q1 output indicates constrained supply which coupled with historically low LME bonded stock makes the price of copper vulnerable to sharp changes in price.

If demand in China increases faster than capacity increases then the price of copper will continue to increase from £6.60/kg at the start of 2024 to potentially as high as £ 9/kg.

At £6.60/kg there was no incentive for Antofagasta to increase capital expenditure on expanding production but if the price goes back above £8/kg then all the miners will be scrambling to bring production capacity online.