Anglo American saw production in most of its major resource groups increase strongly in the first quarter.
Iron ore production totalled 11.7m tonnes in the three months to March 31st, up 17% on the first quarter of 2011 helped by the ramp-up of output from Kolomela mine (South Africa) and a continued improvement in performance at Amap (South America). The Kolomela mine alone is expected to produce between four and five million tonnes in 2012, before increasing to a capacity rate of nine million tonnes per annum in 2013.
Metallurgical coal production surged 73% year-on-year to 3.7m tonnes, helped by a easy comparative owing to the Australian floods last year. However, production was 8% lower when compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 due to wet weather. Thermal coal production fell by 14% due to industrial action and wet weather.
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Copper output increased by 21% to 168,400 tonnes following the commissioning of the Los Bronces (Chile) expansion project in October 2011 and higher ore grades at El Soldado (Chile).
Meanwhile, nickel production almost doubled and platinum output increased 5%. However, diamond output fell by 16% due to De Beers' continued scheduled maintenance and waste stripping activities.
Back in November, the company announced that it would be increasing its shareholder in diamond group De Beers from 45% to 85% for $5.1bn. The company is still waiting on all competition approvals for the acquisition but it is expected to be completed in the second half of 2012.
Total exploration and evaluation operating expenditure during the quarter totalled $140m, 30% higher than the first three months of 2011 due to the continuing spend on expansion project studies.
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