ZUG (dpa-AFX) - Swiss mining company Xstrata Plc (XTA.L, XSRAY.PK, XSRAF.PK) on Tuesday reported mixed production results for its first quarter, while its operating and financial performance continues to be strong.
In the quarter, total mined copper production declined 18 percent from last year to 171,121 tonnes from last year's 209,935 tonnes. The company said the decline was as expected in a transition year, following the closure of the Ernest Henry open pit mine in December last year and with Tintaya pit entering its final year of production in 2012.
The company noted that new expansion projects ramp up in the second half of the year at its Antamina joint venture and new Antapaccay mine in Peru, Ernest Henry underground mine in Australia and Lomas Bayas mine in Chile.
Total copper cathode production increased 2 percent to 158,545 tonnes driven by higher production at the Townsville refinery which experienced a shut down in the same quarter of 2011 in response to a severe cyclone event in North Queensland.
Gold production decreased 34 percent to 86,800 ounces mainly due to Ernest Henry's transition to a lower production underground operation and to lower grades at Alumbrera and Tintaya.
Average LME copper price declined 13.5 percent to $8,329 per tonne, while gold price increased 22 percent to $1,691 per ounce.
Total consolidated coal production increased 9 percent to 21.1 million tonnes in the quarter primarily due to increased Australian and South African thermal coal volumes resulting from more consistent, uninterrupted production. This was in comparison t last year's significant impact of a number of uncontrollable events.
In the quarter, the company also generated higher volumes in mined nickel, ferronickel and lead.
Xstrata added that major projects continue to make good progress and remain on schedule.
In a separate statement, the company noted that Xstrata Zinc is accelerating production from the Lady Loretta underground mine and further extending the life of the Handlebar Hill open cut operation in Queensland, Australia. This will generate a net increase in annual zinc production of 5 percent or 25,000 tonnes.
The company added that a further A$57 million has been approved to accelerate the development of the mine, increasing the annual ore production rate from 1.0Mt to 1.2Mt and bringing forward the start of production by one year to late 2012.
Xstrata Zinc Australia Chief Operating Officer Brian Hearne said expansions of both mines through a total additional investment of A$87 million would realize significant value from its Australian zinc business, including an estimated 30 new direct jobs.
In London, Xstrata shares are currently trading at 1,178.56 pence, up 1.06 pence or 0.09 percent.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX