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Ero Copper Announces 2023 Production Results and Provides 2024 Guidance

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Ero Copper Announces 2023 Production Results and Provides 2024 Guidance

 

 

 

 

 

Ero Copper Corp. (TSX: ERO) (NYSE: ERO)  is pleased to announce its 2023 production results, 2024 guidance and three-year production outlook.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Record Gold Production Driven by Successful Completion of the NX 60 Initiative

  • The Xavantina Operations produced 59,222 ounces of gold in 2023, exceeding the increased guidance range of 55,000 to 59,000 ounces, issued on November 2, 2023, and the original 2023 guidance range of 50,000 to 53,000 ounces
  • Average processed gold grades of 15.13 grams per tonne (“gpt”) represented a 98.8% increase in gold grades as compared to 2022

 

Caraíba Mill Expansion Design Capacity Reached by Year-End

  • The Caraíba Operations produced 43,857 tonnes of copper in concentrate for the full year, slightly below guidance of 44,000 to 47,000 tonnes
  • Although the Caraíba mill expansion design capacity was achieved by year-end, throughput volumes and copper production for the fourth quarter and full year were impacted by approximately one week of additional unplanned downtime related to the integration of the expansion circuit

 

2024 Guidance

  • Consolidated copper production is expected to be 59,000 to 72,000 tonnes in concentrate at C1 cash costs between $1.50 to $1.75 per pound of copper produced
  • The Xavantina Operations are expected to produce 55,000 to 60,000 ounces of gold at average C1 cash costs between $550 to $650 per ounce of gold produced and all-in sustaining costs between $1,050 and $1,150 per ounce of gold produced
  • Total capital expenditures are expected to decrease year-on-year to a range of $299 to $349 million in 2024, primarily due to the completion of the Tucumã Project, which remains on track to commence production during the second half of the year. As a result, capital spend is expected to be weighted towards the first half of 2024

 

Three-Year Production Outlook

  • Consolidated copper production is projected to more than double to 95,000 to 105,000 tonnes in 2025, as the Tucumã Mine is expected to achieve its first full year of production
  • Following the successful completion of the NX 60 initiative in 2023, the Xavantina Operations are expected to sustain annual gold production levels of 55,000 to 60,000 ounces through 2026

 

Commenting on the production results and 2024 guidance, David Strang, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our 2023 production performance reflects the strong execution of our organic growth strategy, highlighted by the successful completion of the NX 60 initiative, which resulted in a 39% year-on-year increase in gold production. Although the completion of the mill expansion project at our Caraíba Operations necessitated additional plant downtime, culminating in full-year copper production that slightly missed our expectations, this milestone is pivotal for supporting higher sustained ore production volumes from the Pilar Mine over the long term.

 

“We have carried this strategic momentum into 2024 as we transition from construction to commissioning at the Tucumã Project, where we anticipate initial copper concentrate production in the second half of this year. With consolidated copper production on track to increase at least 35% this year and more than double in 2025, we are actively advancing our longer-term growth initiatives. These include construction of the new external shaft at the Caraíba Operations, continued nickel exploration throughout the Curaçá Valley, and preparing for the first phase of work at the Furnas Project.

 

“I am proud of the progress our team has made in executing major growth initiatives announced just over two years ago. We are committed to building upon this track record as we position Ero to deliver peer-leading growth in the years ahead.”

 

FOURTH QUARTER AND FULL-YEAR 2023 PRODUCTION RESULTS

 

Caraíba Operations

  • Throughput volumes increased 12.8% year-on-year to over 3.2 million tonnes, despite lower-than-expected processed tonnage in Q4 2023 due to mill downtime related to the integration of the expansion circuit
  • Processed copper grades and metallurgical recoveries were in-line with expectations, averaging 1.49% and 91.4%, respectively, for the year

 

Xavantina Operations

  • Processed gold grades increased 98.8% to average 15.13 gpt for the year, more than offsetting lower year-on-year mill throughput volumes

 

            2023 Guidance
    Q4 2023   Full Year 2023   Original   Updated
Caraíba Operations                
Tonnes Processed   812,202   3,231,667   3,300,000  
Grade (% Cu)   1.59   1.49   1.50  
Recovery Rate (%)   91.0   91.4   91.5  
Cu Production (tonnes)   11,760   43,857   44,000 – 47,000   44,000 – 47,000
                 
Xavantina Operations                
Tonnes Processed   34,416   136,002   175,000  
Grade (gpt Au)   17.18   15.13   10.00  
Recovery Rate (%)   88.7   89.5   92.0  
Au Production (oz)   16,867   59,222   50,000 – 53,000   55,000 – 59,000

2024 PRODUCTION GUIDANCE AND THREE-YEAR PRODUCTION OUTLOOK

 

The Company’s 2024 production guidance and three-year production outlook reflect the ongoing execution of its organic growth strategy, including the successful completion of the Xavantina Operations’ NX 60 initiative as well as the anticipated completion of the Tucumã Project, which remains on track to commence production in the second half of this year. As a result, the Company expects to deliver sustained annual gold production of 55,000 to 60,000 ounces through 2026 and more than double copper production to 95,000 to 105,000 tonnes in concentrate in 2025.

 

At the Caraíba Operations, copper production is projected to range from 42,000 to 47,000 tonnes through 2026, with higher mill throughput volumes expected to offset lower forecast mined and processed copper grades. Following the anticipated completion of the Pilar Mine’s new external shaft in late 2026, the Company expects mined and processed copper grades to increase as mining from the high-grade Deepening Extension Zone ramps up.

 

Copper production from the Tucumã Operations is expected to increase from 17,000 to 25,000 tonnes in the second half of 2024 to 53,000 to 58,000 tonnes in 2025, when the mine achieves its first full year of production. The Tucumã mill is expected to sustain nameplate throughput levels of approximately 4.0 million tonnes per annum beginning in 2025 with strong mined and processed copper grades projected through 2026.

 

At the Xavantina Operations, higher mill throughput levels are expected to offset lower mined and processed gold grades over the next three years. In 2024, gold production is expected to be slightly weighted towards the first half of the year due to higher anticipated gold grades compared to the second half of the year.

 

 

    2024   2025   2026
Copper (tonnes)            
Caraíba Operations   42,000 – 47,000   42,000 – 47,000   42,000 – 47,000
Tucumã Operations   17,000 – 25,000   53,000 – 58,000   48,000 – 53,000
Total Copper   59,000 – 72,000   95,000 – 105,000   90,000 – 100,000
             
Gold (ounces)            
Xavantina Operations   55,000 – 60,000   55,000 – 60,000   55,000 – 60,000

 

Note: Guidance is based on estimates and assumptions including, but not limited to, mineral reserve estimates, grade and continuity of interpreted geological formations and metallurgical recovery performance. Please refer to the Company’s SEDAR+ and EDGAR filings, including the most recent Annual Information Form (“AIF”), for a detailed summary of risk factors.

 

2024 COST GUIDANCE

 

2024 copper C1 cash cost guidance on a consolidated basis is $1.50 to $1.75 per pound of copper produced. This range incorporates several key updates relative to previous 2024 C1 cash cost projections:

  • The foreign exchange rate has been adjusted from 5.30 to 5.00 Brazilian Real (BRL) per U.S. Dollar (USD), reflecting the BRL’s continued strength
  • Guidance includes higher concentrate treatment and refining charges based on Q4 2023 levels, which have shown a favorable downward trend year-to-date
  • Consumable cost assumptions have been refreshed higher to align with consumable pricing observed in Q4 2023
  • The Company has assumed the Caraíba Operations will export 100% of its copper concentrate in 2024, up from the 50% previously assumed

 

Furthermore, in light of changes to the Caraíba Operations’ copper concentrate sales channels, the Company has updated its copper C1 cash cost calculation methodology1. This change will be offset by an equal increase in reported realized copper prices.

 

At the Xavantina Operations, the C1 cash cost guidance range of $550 to $650 per ounce of gold produced reflects improved fixed cost efficiencies driven by higher expected gold production, partially offsetting the impact of planned decreases to mined and processed gold grades. The AISC guidance range for 2024 is $1,050 to $1,150 per ounce of gold produced.

 

2024 cost guidance assumes a foreign exchange rate of 5.00 USD:BRL, a gold price of $1,900 per ounce, and a silver price of $23.00 per ounce.

 

 

Copper C1 Cash Cost ($/lb)    
Caraíba Operations   $1.80 – $2.00
Tucumã Operations   $0.90 – $1.10
Consolidated Copper Operations   $1.50 – $1.75
     
Gold C1 Cash Cost ($/oz)   $550 – $650
Gold All-In Sustaining Cost ($/oz)   $1,050 – $1,150

 

Note: C1 Cash Costs and AISC are non-IFRS measures. Please see the Notes section of this press release for additional information.

 

  1. For further details, please refer to the definition of “C1 Cash Cost of Copper Produced (per lb)” the Notes section below.

 

2024 CAPITAL EXPENDITURE GUIDANCE

 

2024 capital expenditures are expected to decrease to a range of $299 to $349 million due to the anticipated completion of the Tucumã Project, which is on track to commence production in the second half of the year. As a result, capital spend is expected to be weighted towards the first half of 2024.

 

The table below includes an estimated $30 to $40 million of consolidated exploration expenditures. This estimate includes approximately $20 million designated for drilling activities at the Caraíba Operations, including expenditures related to the Curaçá Valley nickel exploration program. Additionally, the Company has budgeted approximately $6 million for the first phase of work at the Furnas Project.

 

The 2024 capital expenditure guidance assumes an exchange rate of 5.10 USD:BRL for the Tucumã Project based on designated foreign exchange hedges with a weighted average ceiling and floor of 5.10 and 5.23 USD:BRL, respectively. All other capital expenditures assume an exchange rate of 5.00 USD:BRL. Figures presented below are in USD millions.

 

 

Caraíba Operations    
Growth   $80 – $90
Sustaining   $100 – $110
Total   $180 – $200
     
Tucumã Project    
Growth   $65 – $75
Capitalized Ramp-Up Costs   $4 – $6
Sustaining   $2 – $5
Total   $71 – $86
     
Xavantina Operations    
Growth   $3 – $5
Sustaining   $15 – $18
Total   $18 – $23
     
Consolidated Exploration Programs   $30 – $40
     
Consolidated Capital Expenditures    
Growth   $148 – $170
Capitalized Ramp-Up Costs   $4 – $6
Sustaining   $117 – $133
Exploration   $30 – $40
Total   $299 – $349

ABOUT ERO COPPER CORP

 

Ero is a high-margin, high-growth, low carbon-intensity copper producer with operations in Brazil and corporate headquarters in Vancouver, B.C. The Company’s primary asset is a 99.6% interest in the Brazilian copper mining company, Mineração Caraíba S.A. (“MCSA”), 100% owner of the Company’s Caraíba Operations (formerly known as the MCSA Mining Complex), which are located in the Curaçá Valley, Bahia State, Brazil and include the Pilar and Vermelhos underground mines and the Surubim open pit mine, and the Tucumã Project (formerly known as Boa Esperança), an IOCG-type copper project located in Pará, Brazil. The Company also owns 97.6% of NX Gold S.A. (“NX Gold”) which owns the Xavantina Operations (formerly known as the NX Gold Mine), comprised of an operating gold and silver mine located in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Additional information on the Company and its operations, including technical reports on the Caraíba Operations, Xavantina Operations and Tucumã Project, can be found on SEDAR+ at www.sedarplus.ca/landingpage/ and on EDGAR (www.sec.gov).

 

Posted February 21, 2024

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