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Freeport cuts copper sales outlook

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) has reduced its copper sales outlook, cut capex by almost a third, furloughed staff and its CEO and CFO will take a 25% pay cut as the company responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freeport cuts copper sales outlook Freeport cuts copper sales outlook Freeport cuts copper sales outlook Freeport cuts copper sales outlook Freeport cuts copper sales outlook

Freeport-McMoRan’s Chino copper mine in New Mexico was suspended this month due to the spread of COVID-19 “among a limited number of employees”

Staff reporter

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Consolidated copper sales were 0.7 billion pounds for the March quarter, with the 2020 estimate now put at 3.1Blb based on US$2.30/lb, down from January's 2020 estimate of 3.5Blb at $2.85.

The outlook for 2020 gold sales was increased slightly, from 775,000 ounces to 780,000oz.

Molybdenum sales for 2020 were forecast to fall from an estimated 88,000lb to 80,000lb.

 

Freeport's Americas 2020 expected copper sales volume has been cut by 15% or 400 million pounds, the miner said in its first quarter report.

North American copper mining and milling rates would be reduced by about 20% following a review targeting a lower-cost mining configuration.

The company announced a $1.3 billion or 18% cut in estimated 2020 opex and a 20% or $100 million reduction in exploration and administrative costs.

It reported a net loss attributable to common stock of $491 million or 34c per share for the quarter.

It suspended the May quarterly cash dividend of 5c per share and said it did not expect to declare further common stock dividends this year.

"We are more than pleased with where we are in a very difficult and uncertain situation," president and CEO Richard Adkerson said in a conference call.

"Our revised plan will target year end 2020 financial liquidity that at current copper prices actually exceeds the liquidity that we had targeted in our annual plan announced just a quarter ago."

The company ended March with a cash balance of $1.6 billion and consolidated debt of $10.1 billion.

Miner has 'learned from experience'

"Freeport has clearly learned from experience in prior downturns as the company now has abundant liquidity and no debt maturities until 2022," Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina said in a note on Friday.

He said underground progress at Grasberg continued to be "impressive and under-appreciated", with unit costs at the Indonesia copper-gold operation expected to average just 20c/lb for the first five years of full production.

He also pointed to a positive medium-term outlook for the copper price, saying there were potential structural demand drivers which could lead to growth in excess of global GDP growth, such as the use of copper in renewable energy, EVs and its potential use in multiple applications due to its antimicrobial properties.

He reiterated a buy rating for Freeport and lifted the price target from $14 to $15.

Freeport closed yesterday at $8.85, capitalising it at $12.8 billion.