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- BHP Group Limited (ASX:BHP) produced 1,574 kt of copper in the financial year 2022
- OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) received the revised non-binding proposal from BHP Group in November 2022 to acquire its 100% shares
- Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) completed the positive Feasibility Study of the DeGrussa Processing Extension Project
Copper is a reddish chemical element/metal which is corrosion-resistant and antimicrobial. It finds major applications in various sectors, like electrical equipment, construction, industrial machinery, and alloys. Chile leads the world in the production of this precious metal, followed by Peru, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the USA, and Australia.
Chile also has the world's largest reserves of copper, followed by Australia, Peru, Russia, and Mexico.
Let’s have a look at some of the important developments in three ASX copper stocks in 2022.
Performance of 3 ASX Copper Stocks
Data Source: ASX as of 30 November 2022
BHP Group Limited (ASX: BHP)
BHP Group is among the largest mining companies in the world. The company has copper mines in Olympic Dam, South Australia; Escondida, and Pampa Norte in Chile; Antamina in Peru, and a proposed mine, Resolution Copper, in Arizona, USA. BHP produced 1,574 kt of copper in the financial year 2022 (FY22).
BHP Group submitted a revised non-binding indicative proposal to OZ Minerals Limited (ASX: OZL) in November 2022. It tends to acquire 100% of OZL at AU$28.25 per share. It is equivalent to the AU$9.6 billion valuation of OZL.
In its activities report for the September quarter, the Group announced that its total copper production increased by 9% to 410 kt compared to the September quarter 2021. It has kept the guidance value for 2023 unchanged at between 1,635 and 1,825 kt.
As per the quarterly results, Escondida’s copper production has increased by 4% to 253kt. It was a result of a concentrator feed grade of 0.83% compared to 0.73% in the September 2021 quarter.
The Pampa Norte copper site’s production surged by 5% to 71 kt. It reflects the continued ramp up of the Spence Growth Option (SGO). The SGO started plant modifications in August 2022 and is planned to finish by next year, with further analysis for additional capacity uplift.
BHP also continued the close monitoring of previously identified Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) anomalies at Spence during the quarter. It achieved the reduction in water volume in the tailings facility and continues to work with the local regulatory agencies to implement a remediation plan for the TSF.
Copper production at the Antamina site increased by 4% to 37 kt, reflecting higher concentrator throughput.
OZ Minerals Limited (ASX:OZL)
OZL is a mining and exploration company based in Australia. OZL operates the Prominent Hill and Carrapateena copper-gold mines in South Australia and the West Musgrave copper-nickel project in Western Australia. The company also has a copper-gold hub in the Para state of Brazil.
OZ minerals received the revised non-binding proposal from BHP Group in November 2022 to acquire its 100% shares.
The reverse circulation (RC) drilling program of OZ Minerals Limited has commenced a series of high-priority copper prospects near the Kalkaroo copper-gold-cobalt deposits. There is a strategic alliance between OZL and Havilah Resources Limited (ASX:HAV). The RC drilling program with 66 firm drillholes and 39 contingent drillholes will start in the south and gradually move northwards.
OZL also released the results of its Project Study of West Musgrave Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP) in November 2022. The project will produce separate copper and nickel concentrates. Flowsheets were confirmed by using conventional technologies in the pilot plant.
In its third-quarter report, OZL revealed brownfield expansion projects are progressing at Prominent Hill, Carrapateena and Carajas. The company has also taken a positive Final Investment Decision for the West Musgrave project, which is expected to produce an average annual production of 41,000 tpa copper in its first five years.
OZL expects the brownfield expansion project at Carrapateena to be completed by the end of 2023.
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Sandfire Resources Limited (ASX:SFR)
Sandfire Resources is an Australia-based mining company with a diversified portfolio. It has exploration projects spanning Australia, the Kalahari Copper Belt, Montana, and the Iberian Pyrite belt.
The MATSA Copper Operations of SFR continued to perform strongly during the September quarter.
Sandfire has increased its group production guidance to 83-91 kt of Cu for the financial year 2023. It was done because of additional copper production scheduled for the DeGrussa Project. The company has also updated its ore reserve estimate for the MATSA project, totaling 37.1Mt at 1.6% copper. SFR completed the positive Feasibility Study of the DeGrussa Processing Extension Project.
The Motheo Copper Mine is progressing as per the schedule, and the first production is expected in the June 2023 quarter. During the September quarter, SFR completed the Definitive Feasibility Study, which supported the planned expansion of the site from 3.2 Mtpa to 5.2 Mtpa.
Sandfire Resources America Inc., a subsidiary of SFR, announced that Phase I Construction of the Black Butte Copper Project will be completed under the existing permit as a District Court Judge has issued the order on remedies.
Sandfire also released the diamond drill results of Resource Definition core drilling at the Lowry Deposit. The results support the pre-feasibility technical report. Drilling in the Low Middle Copper Zone (LMCZ) confirmed the grades and thicknesses of the results obtained by previous drillings. The result will allow the Lowry Pre-Feasibility Study to be completed in 2023.
The drilling progressed in the September quarter in the Kalahari Copper Belt Exploration Project. Assay results of 25 holes were also released and showed positive prospects for copper and silver.
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