Source - SMW
Chile-focused miner Antofagasta reported a drop in full-year earnings amid flat revenue as a fall in copper prices hampered the its ability to take advantage of record copper production.   For 2018, earnings (EBITDA) fell 13.9% to $2.2bn from a year earlier.  Profit before tax fell 31.6% to $1.252.7bn from $1.9bn from the previous year and revenue was about flat at $4.73bn.  The subdued output was blamed on a 6.3% in copper prices, though this was offset by higher copper sales volumes and higher molybdenum revenue.    Antofagasta left its output guidance unchanged for 2019, forecasting copper production to rise to between 750,000 tonnes and 790,000 tonnes this year from 725,300 tonnes in 2018. Group cash costs in 2019 before and after by-product credits were expected to be similar to 2018's at $1.70 per pound and $1.30 per pound, respectively.   It also estimated 240,000-260,000 ounces of gold and 11,500-12,500 tonnes of molybdenum for 2019.   The company aimed to keep capital expenditure growth flat, predicting it to amount to $1.2 billion in 2019 at similar levels as 2018.   A final dividend of 37 cents per share was declared, bringing the total dividend for the year to 43.8 cents per share, 13.9% below last year, but similar to last year's pay-out ratio of 67%.    '2018 was a record year of production, with the Group hitting 725,300 tonnes of copper reflecting an improving level of operating stability and a full year's contribution from Encuentro Oxides. This momentum will continue into 2019 which we expect to be another record-setting year as we benefit from a further improvement in grades and continued strong throughput,' said CEO Iván Arriagada.    'In 2018 we achieved savings of $184 million under our Cost and Competitiveness Programme which helped contain the increase in net cash costs to 3%. These savings were in excess of the $100 million originally targeted, and now for 2019 we are targeting a further $100 million of savings.'   'As US/China trade negotiations have progressed during the first few months of this year the copper price has traded favourably. We expect price volatility to persist in the short term but consider the fundamentals of the copper market will remain positive and that the supply deficit will increase during the year. '