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Antofagasta says drought impacted its copper production in Chile in Q1, hopes to launch desalination plant in H2 2022

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(Kitco News) - Chile-focused miner Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO), the world's top-10 copper producer, said today that its copper production in Q1 2022 was 138.8 ktonnes, down 24% compared to Q1 2021 (183 ktonnes) and in line with guidance.

The company explained that lower copper production was mainly due to the expected temporary reduction in throughput at Los Pelambres because of the drought and lower grades at Centinela Concentrates.

"The drought has continued at Los Pelambres with no precipitation during the quarter. Strict water management protocols are in place to optimize water usage and mitigate the impact of low water availability," the company noted in a statement.

The company's gold production was 38,400 ounces in Q1 2022, 35% lower than in the same period in 2021 and 41% lower than in 4Q 2021, mainly due to expected lower grades at Centinela.

Molybdenum production in the quarter was 2,000 tonnes, a decrease of 1,000 tonnes compared to the same period in 2021 due to lower grades and throughput at Los Pelambres.

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However, the company added that 2022 guidance is unchanged and its copper production for the full year is expected to be 660-690,000 tonnes, reflecting lower expected grades at Centinela Concentrates and the temporarily reduced throughput at Los Pelambres.

The company pointed out that its 2022 guidance assumes there is no precipitation until the rainy season and the desalination plant at Los Pelambres starts operating in H2 2022. As previously announced, copper production during the year is expected to be lowest in Q1 and to increase quarter-on-quarter thereafter.

Antofagasta's four operations in Chile are Los Pelambres, Centinela, Antucoya and Zaldívar. The world-class Los Pelambres and Centinela mining districts have sustainable long-life copper mining operations, with large mineral resources, and produce significant volumes of gold, silver and molybdenum as by-products. All of the company's mines are open pit operations.

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