Anglo American said its copper output had reached a five-year high and its overall output for the last quarter of 2018 had risen 7 percent following operational changes that boosted efficiency.
The high copper output – up 23 percent versus the same quarter a year ago and the highest since late 2013 – more than offset a 13 percent fall production at Kumba iron ore in South Africa because of infrastructure issues.
Anglo American outperformed its major peers last year, driven in part by its prospects for copper, a metal with a major role to play in a more electrified economy. Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said continued focus on “efficiency and productivity improvements” had boosted output.
In December, Anglo said its annual production would rise more than previously expected and costs should be lower. The 7 percent overall rise discounted the impact of disruption at Minas-Rio, where operations resumed in December after months of disruption because of a leak.
Anglo American now has the license needed to kickstart activity at the mine. Subaru halts Japan car output on defective part, shares slide
Production guidance for Minas-Rio in 2019 is 18-20 million tonnes after the mine produced 0.2 million tonnes in the last quarter of 2018.
Production from the De Beers diamond arm rose by 12 percent, driven by increased output and good grades at the Orapa mine in Botswana.
Rough diamond sales for the full year were 4 percent lower versus 2017, however, as demand fell for lower value rough diamonds in the second half. Platinum and palladium production both increased by 3 percent.