The Vancouver-headquartered company said Monday the 2019 production figure came in at the lower end of its annual guidance at 87.2 million pounds of copper-equivalent (Cu-eq), and it expected 2020 output to rise by a third to between 100-113Mlb of Cu-eq.
Management expects another production increase in 2021 to 102-115Mlb Cu-eq and a slight dip to the 2022 outlook at 88-100Mlb Cu-eq. The company said 2023 production was expected to recover back to higher levels "immediately thereafter" .
The company is currently expanding the Copper Mountain mill to 45,000 tonnes per day, up from the current 40,000t/d capacity, and expects to commission the expanded facility by year end.
CEO Gil Clausen said the company was now "well positioned" to deliver strong production, improved grades and lower cost as a result of the "significant" development completed in 2019 at the mine.
"The benefits of that investment were evident in the fourth quarter of 2019, with strong production and grade improvement as we opened up more high-grade zones in our main pit," he said.
During 2019, the company pushed back the southwest wall in the main pit to uncover higher-grade zones at depth, which are expected to produce higher grades into this year.
In 2020, all-in sustaining costs are forecast at US$1.95-$2.20/lb of copper. A further $33 million has been earmarked for expansion projects, mainly allocated towards the concentrator expansion.
The company acquired Copper Mountain in 2006 and started production in 2011 with a 35,000t/d mill. Mitsubishi Materials holds a 25% stake in Copper Mountain.
The company reports current reserves of 477Mt grading 0.23% copper, 0.1 g/t gold and 0.73 g/t silver, which underpins a 31-year mine life.
Copper Mountain is currently undertaking a pre-feasibility study to examine the option of a further plant expansion beyond 45,000t/d. It also plans to publish a bankable feasibility study on its Eva project in Australia by March.
Copper Mountain shares (TSX:CMMC) have lost 17% over the past 12 months to 75c, which capitalises the company at $134 million (US$110 million). Shares have traded in a range of 53c-$1.18 over the period.