Copper production is forecast to more than double to a range of 92,000 to 102,000t tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2025 with gold production forecast to increase to 55,000 to 60,000oz by 2024.
"We decided we'd go a bit longer [in guidance] than what our peers do, because we have all of this growth in front of us," "We produced 22,000 tonnes of copper in our first year, we've doubled that in four years and we're now producing 45,000 tonnes, and now we're showing the pathway to doubling again," Ero Copper president and CEO David Strang told Mining Journal.
The five-year guidance also talks to the apparent difficulty the market has had valuing the company, with Ero swinging from trading at a very high premium to a discount to its peer group and trading down to a 18-month low on the back of record results.
"Last year we were trading at very high premium in terms of our EBITDA multiple and now we're trading at a discount to our peer group yet we had the best year that we've ever had. It certainly caught us a little bit by surprise," Ero Copper president and CEO David Strang told Mining Journal. "I'd like to believe the market will start giving us credit with respect to our ability to deliver on everything we said we were going to deliver since we acquired this company."
The company posted record copper production in 2021 from its MCSA complex in Bahia, Brazil of 45,511 tonnes of copper in concentrate, surpassing its guidance, as did its NX gold mine which produced 37,798 ounces of gold.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Jackie Przybylowski said the results were "mixed". "Ero Copper's 2021 copper and gold production was well ahead of consensus and our expectations, which continues to demonstrate the strong operating capability of the company. Although 2022 and forward guidance is worse than our (and consensus) previous expectations," she wrote in a reaserch note.
Strang said 2021 was a pivotal year for the company which has set things up for the company's board to make a construction decision on the Boa Esperanca project at its March meeting.
"At the beginning of 2021, we were hoping to be able to be in a position to double production. Now we have the roadmap, it's there and we need to follow it, and if we follow it according to the way we've laid it out, we're going to be a very different company in four years from now in terms of our size and profitability," said Strang.
The company's success means the topic of dividends is now cropping up. "Internally, we're having those conversations now, which is quite remarkable for a company that we acquired out bankruptcy five years ago to be in a position to start contemplating that. Whether we do something in the near term remains to be seen. We want to see where copper prices remain and we've got quite a large investment portfolio to invest in now with construction of Boa and completion of Pillar 3.0 but it is great to have those conversations," said Strang.