REGION II, Chile PLACER DOME of Vancouver reported that its wholly-owned Zaldivar copper mine in northern Chile II produced 37,550 tonnes of copper in the second quarter, in line with last year’s 37,200 tonnes.
Cash and total costs were US$0.55/lb and US$0.70/lb respectively, up 17% and 11% due to higher energy and acid costs and unplanned maintenance, the company said. As a result, and with the expectation that acid costs will remain high, Placer Dome now predicts the mine’s costs for 2003 as a whole will be US$0.52/lb cash and US$0.66/lb total, up from the previously forecast US$0.48 and US$0.63. Zaldivar is forecast to produce 146,500 tonnes of copper this year.
Placer Dome’s 50%-owned La Coipa gold/silver mine in Chiles Region III produced 36,400 oz of gold in the second quarter, down 21% from 46,040 oz in same period of 2002. But the mine, the other 50% of which is owned by fellow Canadian KINROSS GOLD, turned out 1.1 million oz of silver in the second quarter of this year, up from 800,000 oz in the year-ago period. Cash costs at La Coipa were US$251/oz in the second quarter and total costs US$336/oz, compared with US$201/oz and US$237/oz a year earlier.
La Coipa is expected to produce 170,000 oz of gold this year at cash costs of US$215/oz and total costs of US$298/oz, Placer said.
The company’s VP for US and Latin America, Bill Hayes, said recently that Placer is still weighing whether to develop the Cerro Casale gold/copper project, also in Chile’s Region III, which requires an estimated investment of US$1.4 billion. "We continue to look hard at Cerro Casale in Chile with a view to reducing the required capital, but at this point it remains uncertain when can bring the project forward," he said.
According to the environmental impact study (EIS), Cerro Casale, also known as Aldebaran, is designed to produce 17 million oz of gold, 32 million oz of silver and 2 million tonnes of copper in concentrates over 18 years. But the feasibility study says the project needs a gold price of US$350/oz and copper at US$0.95/lb.
The Placer Dome web site is at www.placerdome.com.