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KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish

Sustained operational outperformance helped Kazakhstan-focused miner KAZ Minerals post strong fourth quarter copper production figures, but macro concerns around the price of the red metal may weigh on the company’s share price in the near term.
KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish KAZ Minerals finishes 2019 with a flourish

KAZ Minerals' Aktogay copper mine is located in south east Kazakhstan

Total copper production for the December quarter amounted to 80,900t, up 4% year on year but down 2.4% quarter on quarter, taking full year output to 311,400t - 4% ahead of guidance. KAZ said the slight quarter on quarter drop was "due to seasonal impact on oxide volumes and lower grades" at Aktogay, while higher grades were offset by scheduled maintenance at Bozshakol.

Gold performance was strong, with production for the December quarter up 14% year on year to 55,300oz.

"The group continues to combine output growth with low unit costs and the expansion project at Aktogay will contribute additional volumes when completed in 2021," KAZ Minerals' CEO Andrew Southam said in a statement.

Canadian investment bank BMO said the figures represented a "very strong finish to 2019".

"KAZ remains well positioned for 2020 and looks to add measured brownfield growth from Aktogay II from 2021. Outperform maintained," BMO analyst Edward Sterck said.

However, the recent dip in copper prices and China-related concerns create downside risk to the company's share price in the near term, RBC Capital said in a note.

"Macro concerns on the impact of coronavirus and read through to global copper and metals demand are likely to be a bigger driver of near term moves in share price than today's results," said RBC's James Bell.

An 8% dip in the copper price from January 17 to January 27 saw KAZ Minerals' share price fall 17% over the same period. However, the impressive Q4 numbers boosted shares in the London-listed company from 452p at market opening on Thursday to 472p by 11:30 London time.

KAZ is due to released its production guidance for 2020 along with its full year financial results on February 20.