Vale’s copper production hit a record high in 2014, but fell short of the company’s guidance for the year, the Brazilian miner said on Thursday February 19.

Total copper output for 2014 rose to 379,700 tonnes last year, compared with 370,100 tonnes in 2013.

Despite the increase, production was 25,300 tonnes lower than Vale’s guidance for the year, as it was “impacted by tie-ins between Salobo I and II as we continue to ramp-up the second line of Salobo”, the company said.

Finished production at Brazilian operations totalled 208,000 tonnes in 2014, compared with 184,000 tonnes a year earlier.

The results were led by Salobo’s mine, which produced 98,000 tonnes of copper last year, up from 65,000 tonnes in 2013, according to Vale.

By contrast, Sossego mine’s annual copper concentrates production fell to 110,000 tonnes in 2014, from 119,000 tonnes in 2013.

Production at Vale’s Canadian operations decreased 3% year-on-year in 2014, to 161,000 tonnes, the miner added.

Copper produced at Sudbury mine sources fell to 98,000 tonnes last year, from 103,000 tonnes a year earlier.

Voisey’s Bay production totalled 33,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2014, compared with 36,000 tonnes the year before.

The company’s Zambian operation, Lubambe, which continues in ramp-up, produced 10,000 tonnes last year, up from 9,000 tonnes in 2013.

Lubambe has a nominal capacity of 45,000 tpy, according to the company.

Fourth quarter
Vale’s fourth-quarter output also hit a record high in 2014, reaching 105,400 tonnes, the company said.

This compares with 94,600 tonnes in the corresponding period a year earlier.

The Sossego mine produced 26,900 tonnes of copper concentrate in the October-December quarter last year, compared with 31,700 tonnes a year earlier.

Vale attributed the drop “primarily to unplanned maintenance in November at the primary crusher”.

Salobo production hit a new record as a result of the ramp up of Salobo II. Output totalled 31,600 tonnes in the last quarter of 2014, from 21,100 tonnes in the corresponding period of 2013.

Sudbury’s copper production fell to 23,300 tonnes in the quarter, from 24,200 tonnes a year earlier, while output at Voisey’s Bay grew by nearly 33% year-on-year to 11,400 tonnes of copper concentrates.

After carrying out a scheduled maintenance shutdown during the third quarter 2014, Voisey’s Bay mill operated fully in the fourth quarter, according to Vale.

Lubambe reported attributable production of 2,400 tonnes in the last quarter of 2014, compared with 2,200 tonnes in the corresponding period of 2013.

Danielle Assalve
Twitter: dassalve_mb