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Chile-focused miner Antofagasta reports lower copper and gold production in 2022

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(Kitco News) - Chile-focused mining company Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO), one of the world's senior copper producers, announced Wednesday that its copper production for the full year was 646,200 tonnes, within guidance and 10.4% lower than last year.

The company said that lower copper production was mainly due to the temporary reduction in throughput (-12.0%) at Los Pelambres as a result of the drought and the reduced concentrate pipeline availability in June, and expected lower grades (-18.3%) at Centinela Concentrates.

Gold production for the full year was 176,800 ounces, within guidance and 29.9% lower than in the previous year as a result of the expected lower grades at Centinela.

For the full year, the company's molybdenum production was 9,700 tonnes, within guidance and 7.6% lower than in 2021 due to lower throughput and grades at Los Pelambres.

The company said that cash costs before by-product credits in 2022 were $2.19/lb, 22.3% higher than last year mainly due to the impact of the drought and higher input prices during the period, particularly for diesel and sulphuric acid.

Net cash costs for the full year were $1.61/lb, slightly below guidance and 34.2% higher than in 2021 due to higher cash costs before by-product credits, it added.

Group production in 2023 is expected to be 670-710,000 tonnes of copper (as previously announced), 220-240,000 ounces of gold and 10-11,500 tonnes of molybdenum.

"Copper guidance reflects that the Los Pelambres desalination and concentrator plants will be in production during the second quarter of the year partly offset by lower grades at Centinela Cathodes. Copper and by-product production is expected to increase quarter on quarter through the year,” the company said in a press release.

Group cash costs in 2023 before by-product credits are expected to be $2.20/lb, in line with 2022 reflecting higher production and decreased input costs, offset by inflation and a stronger Chilean peso. Group net cash costs in 2023 are expected to be $1.65/lb as by-product credits are forecast to decrease reflecting the expected fall in gold and molybdenum prices.

Antofagasta operates four mines in Chile: Los Pelambres, Centinela, Antucoya and Zaldívar. All of the company's mines are open pit operations.

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