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Which Miners Could See Higher Copper Production in 2018?

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Feb. 21 2018, Updated 9:03 a.m. ET

Copper production

Previously in this series, we’ve looked at major copper producers’ 4Q17 production data. In this article, we’ll look at the 2018 production guidance provided by leading copper miners.

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2018 guidance

Glencore expects its copper production to rise 12% year-over-year (or YoY), looking at the midpoint of its 2018 production guidance. BHP Billiton (BHP) expects to produce between 1.65 million metric tons and 1.79 million metric tons of copper in fiscal 2018. BHP’s fiscal year ends on June 30. The company’s fiscal 2017 copper production had fallen 16% YoY to 1.32 million metric tons as a result of labor action at its Escondida mine.

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) expects its 2018 copper shipments to rise 5.4% compared to 2017. However, the company’s copper shipments are expected to fall in 2019 as its Grasberg mine transitions to underground operations.

Comparative analysis

Antofagasta (ANTO) expects to produce between 705,000 and 740,000 metric tons of copper in 2018, compared to 704,300 metric tons last year. Southern Copper (SCCO) expects its Toquepala expansion project to add 100,000 metric tons to its 2018 mined copper production. First Quantum Minerals expects its 2018 copper production to rise 2.3% YoY to 590,000 metric tons. Rio Tinto (RIO) sees its share of copper production between 510,000 and 610,000 metric tons in 2018. The company’s share in mined copper production was 478,000 metric tons last year.

Notably, while several mining companies see their copper production rise on a yearly basis, market participants expect supply-side disruptions supporting copper prices this year, as we’ll discuss in the next part of this series.

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