Copper production down at Weatherly
Weatherly International has announced a decline in copper production for the quarter ended 31 March 2013 due to “a series of one-off events” at its underground operations.
Total production from Matchless and Otjihase mines, together known as Central Operations, was 67,833 tonnes of ore down from 79,330 recorded in the preceding quarter while 4948 tonnes of copper concentrate was produced compared to 5780 tonnes. Production of copper contained fell to 1142 tonnes from 1328 tonnes.
Weatherly said the fall in production was due to a significant ground subsidence that occurred in the upper levels of the Otjihase compartment which led to a decision to abandon the mining area. In addition, a fatality at Matchless caused a temporary shutdown of the second operational mine.
With the loss of future production from Otjihase, Weatherly said it has revised the mine plan, bypassing the conveyor system to improve efficiencies and restructured the contractual arrangements currently in place. Under the new arrangements, the junior copper miner said it has agreed to the appointment by the contractor of a new Otjihase management team with extensive international experience in successfully turning around safety and production performance to achieve best practice.
While these changes, Weatherly said it still expects Central Operations to produce at around the recent rate of 5000 tonnes of copper per annum. Further production uplift is expected when a new compartment (Hoffnung West) becomes available to replace the ore blocks lost through subsidence, and, in the longer term, from the Old Matchless mine.
Although disappointed with the results, Rod Webster, CEO of Weatherly, said he is looking to the future with optimism. He said: “Operationally we have not delivered against our plans at the Central Operations and during the quarter we completed a detailed review of both our underground mines. As a result of our review, we are now implementing a number of changes which will reduce our costs in line with achievable production and ensure continuing cash flow.”
At the end of the quarter, Weatherly had cash reserves of US$7.2 million.