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Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback

Shares in Hudbay Minerals hit a one-year high on Friday as the company forecast a 7% increase in copper production for this year and a 62% increase in gold, compared with 2020.
Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback Hudbay boosts outlook, flags Pampacancha setback

Hudbay Minerals’ Constancia operations in Peru

Staff reporter

However it flagged an issue at Pampacancha in Peru, where new COVID-19 restrictions in late January and the need to complete remaining land user agreements meant Hudbay no longer expected to mine 4 million tonnes of ore from the deposit by June 30.

"If we fail to meet this milestone, the company will be required to deliver an additional 8,020 ounces of gold to Wheaton Precious Metals in equal quarterly instalments, at prevailing market prices, starting September 30, 2021," Hudbay said.

It said it was currently in discussions with Wheaton "about, among other things, alternatives to defer the additional gold deliveries over the Pampacancha mine life".

The company had received a final mining permit for Pampacancha, a higher-grade satellite deposit to its Constancia operations, in early January after completing a prior consultation process.

CEO Peter Kukielski told analysts in a conference call the discussions with the one remaining land user family were ongoing.

"And we remain optimistic that that will be concluded in time to allow us to start mining activities in the second quarter," he said.

Higher metals prices boosted Hudbay's net earnings to US$7.4 million for the December quarter, while the adjusted net loss and adjusted EBITDA were $16.4 million (6c per share) and $106.9 million respectively.

The company's full-year net loss was $144.6 million, down from $348.3 million in 2019 which was mainly caused by an after-tax impairment charge of $242.1 million related to its stalled Rosemont copper project in the US. 

Hubday said it expected a decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding its Rosemont appeal in the second half of 2021.

It said it had met production and cost guidance for 2020, despite COVID-19 impacts and a skip hoist incident at its 777 mine in Manitoba, Canada.

The company had produced 95,333t of copper last year and put 2021 guidance at 92,000-112,000t.

Gold and silver production was expected to grow from 2020's 124,622oz and 2.75 million ounces respectively, to 190,000-215,000oz and 3-3.57Moz in 2021.

Hudbay's 2020 consolidated all-in sustaining cash cost per pound of copper produced, net of by-product credits, was $2.16/lb, up from $1.86/lb in 2019.

New consolidated sustaining cash cost guidance, introduced for 2021, was put at US$2.05-$2.30/lb copper, net of by-product credits.

Kukielski said the New Britannia project, a mill refurbishment to capitalise on Manitoba's gold potential, was due to pour first gold in the third quarter.

However the project was about $13 million over budget, Hudbay said, due to additions to project scope and COVID-19 related costs.

"While 2021 remains a year of investment for Hudbay, it is also the year in which we expect to start to see the benefits of these high-return investments as we grow our production through Pampacancha and New Britannia, and create significant value for our stakeholders," Kukielski said.

Hudbay shares peaked at C$10.45 intraday before closing up 8.6% to $10.21 to capitalise it at $2.7 billion (US$2.1 billion).