Maintenance weighs on Newcrest

NEWCREST Mining has posted a 23% quarter-on-quarter drop in gold production due to planned maintenance.
Maintenance weighs on Newcrest Maintenance weighs on Newcrest Maintenance weighs on Newcrest Maintenance weighs on Newcrest Maintenance weighs on Newcrest

The Red Chris operation in BC, Canada

Gold output was 512,000 ounces, while copper production dropped 14% to 25,000 tonnes.

All-in sustaining costs rose US$179 an ounce to $899/oz.

"Consistent with past practice, Newcrest executed several major planned maintenance shutdowns across the group during the first quarter," Newcrest CEO Sandeep Biswas said.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Hissey said the result was softer than estimates.

"While we had planned for a slower start to the year (maintenance shutdowns), this was slower than we had forecast - owing mainly to lower throughputs at Cadia and Telfer which flowed down to lower production and increased costs," he said.

However, the higher gold price meant Newcrest still recorded an AISC margin of $537/oz, higher than FY19's margin of $531/oz.

In August, Newcrest completed the acquisition of 30% of the Red Chris mine in British Columbia.

It contributed 2785oz of gold and 2891t of copper at AISC of $4317/oz.

Newcrest said the high AISC reflected a combination of the timing of gold sales and a significant increase in capital expenditure to improve the site's performance.

The company has four drill rigs at Red Chris now and plans to add another two before the end of the year.

"We are in the early stages of applying our proven business improvement program to the open pit operation while we continue to drill and study the opportunity for developing a block cave operation," Biswas said.

Guidance for Red Chris for FY20 is 25,000-35,000oz of gold and 20,000-25,000t of copper.

The company expects "substantially lower" free cashflow in the current half due to the production shutdowns and the acquisition of the Red Chris stake.

Newcrest updated group guidance to 2.37-2.53 million ounces of gold and 130,000-145,000t of copper, weighted to the second half.

Guidance for all operations remains unchanged, though Newcrest said Telfer production would likely come in at the lower end of guidance of 400,000-460,000oz of gold and 15,000t of copper.

Newcrest is hoping its farm-in with Greatland Gold at Havieron near Telfer may give the depleting operation a new lease on life.

The company drilled another seven holes at Havieron during the quarter, with new results including 45m at 7.1 grams per tonne gold and 0.08% copper from 1077m, and 96.4m at 4.5gpt gold and 0.14% copper from 916.4m.

Newcrest shares were down 0.6% to A$32.35. The stock peaked this year at $38.37 in August.

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