Boliden’s copper and nickel output projections at its Aitik and Kevitsa mines will likely fall short this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It anticipated producing 45mn mt at the Aitik mine and 9.5mn mt at the Kevitsa mine, but the pandemic has kept its workers off-site.
The company’s concentrate production across all six of its mines declined on an annual basis in Q1 2020. The group’s zinc production last quarter dropped by 16pc to 63,567mt from 75,236mt in Q1 2019, and by 13pc from 72,851mt in Q4 2019. This was followed by a dip of 10pc in lead production to 12,540mt in Q1 2020 from 13,967 during the same period last year, and by 9pc from 13,818mt in Q4 2019. The zinc and lead production declines were mainly due to breakdowns during the quarter and its Tara facility’s shutdown in response to COVID-19.
Copper production fell by 7pc to 29,059mt in Q1 2020 compared to 31,352 in Q1 2019, however, it rose by 4pc from 28,057mtin Q4 2019. Nickel production in Q1 2020 decreased by 17pc to 2,635mt from 3,179mt in Q1 2019, while it increased by 15pc from 2,282mt in Q4 2019. The increases in nickel and copper production were due to increased milled volumes at the Kevitsa mine.
Boliden’s concentrate production increased across all five of its smelters. Zinc production increased by 4pc to 127,296mt in Q1 2020 from 121,842mt in Q1 2019, and again by 4pc from 122,322mt in Q4 2019. Lead production climbed by 10pc to 21,131mt in Q1 2020 compared to 19,286mt in Q1 2019, however, it dropped slightly by 1pc from 21,437 in Q1 2019.
Copper increased by 9pc to 95,243mt in Q1 2020 from 87,241mt in Q1 2019, and by 10pc from 86,590mt in Q4 2019. Nickel, on the other hand, fell by 17pc to 7,124mt in the first quarter of the year from 8,539mt during the comparable period a year ago, and remained almost unchanged from 7,089mt in Q4 2019.
The group’s total operating profit dropped by almost 42pc to $145mn in the first quarter from $247mn in Q1 2019. Its operating profit across all six mines saw a significant decline of close to 77pc in Q1 2020 to $32mn from $137mn in Q1 2019. Across its five smelters, the company’s operating profit fell by 16pc to $106mn in Q1 2020 from $126mn during the same period in 2019.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boliden is taking preventive measures by increasing stock to mitigate the risk of production losses, and it plans to work normal business hours in the coming quarter while keeping employees’ health top of mind.