Kazakhmys Plc, Kazakhstan’s biggest copper company, said first-quarter production of the metal rose 12 percent as demand grew and adverse weather abated.
Kazakhmys produced 72,800 metric tons of copper cathode, a finished form of the metal, compared with 65,100 tons a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Output of copper in concentrate advanced to 79,700 tons from 71,500 tons.
“We have enjoyed a positive start to the year, benefiting from relatively mild weather and good demand for our major products,” Chief Executive Officer Oleg Novachuk said in the statement. “We are on track to meet our annual production targets and we continue to invest in our growth projects.”
Kazakhmys is targeting 500,000 tons of copper annually by 2017 after construction of the Bozshakol and Aktogay mines is complete. The London-based company, which produced 294,000 tons in 2012, reiterated this year’s goal of 285,000 to 295,000 tons. It rose 4.3 percent to 374.30 pence at the close.
“Kazakhmys has been very reliable in hitting production targets and today’s numbers are no exception,” Liberum Capital Ltd. said in a note. “Strong silver production is a welcome relief and helps offset precious metal pricing weakness.”
Silver output rose 20 percent to 3.4 million ounces from a year before on higher volumes of the metal in the extracted ore. The company’s average realized silver price dropped to $30 an ounce in the quarter from $34 a year earlier, it said.
Net debt increased to $956 million at the end of March from $707 million at the end of December. Kazakhmys owns 26 percent of Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., a Kazakh ferroalloy company that lost almost half its value in a year. The market value of the holding declined to $1.25 billion at the end of March from $1.55 billion at the end of 2012, according to the statement.
ENRC’s three founding shareholders and the Kazakh government are considering making an offer for the ferroalloys company and have until May 17 to put forward a bid. Kazakhmys will comment on the developments at ERNC only after the founding shareholders provide more information or make a clear offer, John Smelt, a spokesman, said today. “Our focus is to get more cash out of our core business and reduce costs,” he said.