The increase in Carmen de Andacollo's fourth quarter gross profit before depreciation and amortization was primarily due to increased copper production and sales, as well as higher copper prices.
Total copper production rose by 7% to 20,500 tonnes compared with the same period a year ago. The concentrator processed a record 55,500 tonnes per day in October, slightly over design capacity.
Operating costs in the fourth quarter increased by 23% to US$96 million compared with a year ago, due primarily to the 16% rise in sales volumes and partly to higher labour and energy costs.
Carmen de Andacollo's production in 2013 is expected to be in the range of 70,000 and 80,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate and approximately 5,000 tonnes of copper cathode.
Duck Pond (100%)
Duck Pond's gross profit before depreciation and amortization increased to $15 million in the fourth quarter compared with $10 million in the same period a year ago, primarily as a result of higher metal prices and lower operating costs. Copper and zinc production in the fourth quarter were 3,500 tonnes and 4,200 tonnes, respectively, compared with 3,300 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes, respectively, last year. Copper and zinc sales in the fourth quarter were 3,600 tonnes and 4,200 tonnes, respectively, compared with 3,800 tonnes and 7,700 tonnes, respectively, last year.
Development of the Boundary open pit will occur over the first six months of 2013 and is expected to supplement underground ore production in the second half of the year.
Duck Pond's production in 2013 is expected to be approximately 15,000 tonnes of copper and 15,000 tonnes of zinc.
Copper Development Projects
Quebrada Blanca Phase 2
During the fourth quarter detailed design of the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Project continued. During the quarter purchase orders for some of the long-lead equipment were issued. The estimated capital cost for the development of the project is US$5.6 billion on a 100% basis (in January 2012 dollars, not including working capital or interest during construction), of which our funding share would be US$4.8 billion. The project contemplates the construction of a 135,000 tonne per day concentrator and related facilities connected to a new port facility by 165 kilometre concentrate and desalinated water pipelines.
Work continues on the updated Social Environmental Impact Assessment ("SEIA") for the project. We currently expect to re-file the SEIA by the end of the second quarter of 2013.
Discussions are ongoing with the other shareholders of Quebrada Blanca concerning financing options for the hypogene project, which may include limited recourse project financing and, possibly, bringing in a new funding partner.
The feasibility study for Relincho is progressing and it is expected to be complete at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013. Permitting delays have affected the progress of third-party port and power supply facilities that we expected to use for Relincho, which delayed the completion of the feasibility study. Exploration and geotechnical drilling are ongoing and a new resource and reserve estimate is expected at the completion of the feasibility study. Based on the prefeasibility design, production would average 180,000 tonnes per year of copper and 6,000 tonnes per year of molybdenum over a 22-year mine life, with higher production in the first five years.
Galore Creek (50%)
The 2012 work program, which included approximately 25,000 meters of infill and geotechnical drilling, was completed in the third quarter. Drill results are being assessed.
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