Australian miner OceanaGold Corp. on Tuesday said it exceeded gold and copper production target for 2013 on the back of strong fourth quarter production from both its New Zealand and Philippine operations.
In a report, Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold managing director and chief executive officer, said that the company reached record gold production in January to December 2013 with 325,732 ounces of the yellow metal extracted from its operating mines – slightly exceeding target range of 285,000 to 325,000 ounces.
Copper production also came out strong with 23,059 metric tons for the year, exceeding top end of the 2013 copper output guideline of 20,000 MT.
“The company exceeded its 2013 gold and copper production guidance at lower than planned costs on the back of strong fourth quarter production,” Wilkes said.
“We continue to drive down our cost profile while increasing cash margins,” he added, noting that last year was a challenging year for the gold sector because of the significant decrease in gold prices.
Against that environment, Wilkes said that the company transformed itself by successfully commissioning the high grade, low cost Didipio Mine in the Philippines, and reducing cost base in New Zealand.
“We responded to the new economic realities in a decisive manner by optimizing mine schedules and identifying operational efficiencies,” he said.
“This year, OceanaGold expects to increase free cash flow generation to be used to further strengthen our balance sheet and position the Company for greater shareholder value,” Wilkes added.
In the fourth quarter, strong performance across all operations resulted in a record 115,219 ounces of gold produced, a 54-percent increase from the previous quarter on account of processing higher grade ore across all operations.
Fourth quarter copper production of 7,536 MT was 23 percent higher than in the previous quarter.
In the Philippines, the Didipio Mine produced 27,713 ounces of gold and 7,536 MT of copper in the fourth quarter because of increased mill feed tonnage, higher gold and copper grades processed, and better recoveries.
For the full year, Didipio achieved its gold production guidance with 66,277 ounces of gold produced, and exceeded its copper production guidance with 23,059 MT produced.
In 2014, the mine operation is set to continue ramping up production.
In New Zealand, strong performance at Macraes and Reefton resulted in a combined fourth quarter gold production of 87,506 ounces, a 54-percent increase from the previous quarter. This increase was attributable to processing higher-grade ore at both operations.
For the full year, New Zealand operations exceeded their gold production guidance with 259,455 ounces of gold produced.
Subsequent to the year-end, OceanaGold announced that in response to the continued lower gold price environment, it reoptimized the mine schedule at Macraes Open Pit and Frasers Underground.
As a result, the Macraes Open Pit mine life is now the end of 2017 while the Frasers underground is expected to end in mid-2015.