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Anglo American’s fourth quarter production is broadly flat

Mark Cutifani, the chief executive of Anglo American, says the ongoing Covid related effects on the operating environment effected its production. File picture

Mark Cutifani, the chief executive of Anglo American, says the ongoing Covid related effects on the operating environment effected its production. File picture

Published Jan 28, 2022

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Tawanda Karombo

Harare - Production across Anglo American South Africa was flat for the fourth quarter to the end of December, CEOMark Cutifani, said yesterday.

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The mining giant produces diamonds under De Beers, platinum group metals under Anglo Platinum in addition to its interests in iron ore among other operations. The flat production performance for the fourth quarter period under review has been blamed on Covid-19 related disruptions to operations.

"Our production was broadly flat compared to Q4 (quarter four) of 2020, with our operating levels at approximately 95 percent of normal capacity through the year, largely due to the ongoing Covid related effects on the operating environment,” Cutifani said.

However, there was higher diamond production by De Beers during the quarter under review. Production levels at some of its coal mines has also returned to pre-pandemic levels while “improved mining performance at Amandelbult resulted in higher metal in concentrate production” for the pgm business.

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Under the copper segment, output at the Collahuasi mine was firmer “as a result of strong plant” performance.

"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,” Cutifani said.

Expectations are that Quellaveco will produce 120 000 to 160 000 tonnes of copper this year while production performance is projected to average 300000 tonnes per year for the first ten years at attainment of full production.

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De Beers was boosted by stronger performance from Jwaneng in Botswana as well as in Namibia, yielding a 15 percent solidifying in diamond output for the quarter. This reflected the company’s “planned higher production in response to strong” consumer demand.

De Beers production in South Africa “was in line with the prior year at 1.3 million carats” with “planned plant maintenance in Q4 (quarter four) 2021 offset by processing of higher grade” ore. Overall rough diamond sales totalled 7.7 million carats, the company said.

“High demand in uncut diamonds has caused De Beers to significantly increase its larger diamond prices by 5 percent with the emphasis falling onto small, cheaper gemstones which increased by up to 20 percent,” said one market watcher.

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Iron ore output for the full year was 3 percent stronger and much lower for the December quarter period owing to unplanned maintenance at Minas- Rio and third-party rail performing below planned levels. This affected Kumba’s production for the year.

This month, Anglo American completed the sale of its 33 percent interest in Cerrejon coal project, marking the final stage of its “exit from thermal coal” operations.

BUSINESS REPORT

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