Major tin miner and refiner Minsur has released its results for the first quarter of 2020. The results indicate a relatively positive quarter, despite closures to its Peruvian operations at the end of the period.

Ore treatment at the San Rafael-Pisco unit in Peru fell some 42% during the first quarter. While the plant was closed from 18 March, the lower volume of pre-concentrated ore (-28%) also resulted in less ore treated. On top of these issues, the plant was shutdown temporarily in February for maintenance.

However, the lower volumes from San Rafael were partially offset by new production from B2. The B2 tailings project began operating fully in January, and produced 613 tonnes of contained tin during the first quarter.

While refined tin production from the Pisco smelting unit fell 19% quarter-on-quarter, it increased 11% in Q1 compared to the first quarter of 2019. The first quarter appears to record lower production each year, and so this is not a major concern for the company. Minsur attributes the annual increase to the higher volume of ore fed to the smelter due to the startup of B2.

At Taboca, Minsur’s Brazilian subsidiary, ore production and the head grade were both higher than the first quarter of 2019. Ore production increased 11%, while the tin grade rose to 0.20% from 0.19%. These results were due to the improved mining fleet at the Pitinga mine. The new trucks and equipment arrived in the final quarter of 2019, boosting operational performance and efficiency.

Despite greater tin ore production, refined tin production at the Pirapora smelter fell by 9% year-on-year. This was due to lower volumes of ore fed into the smelter; Q1 2019 was boosted by processing accumulated stocks.

In terms of cost, the cash cost of treatment at San Rafael rose some 51% year-on-year. This was due to the lower volumes treated and fewer production days. However, the overall cash costs in Peru and Brazil fell. The costs at both operations, net of by-product, fell by 4%.

Our view: The first quarter results for Minsur and Taboca are relatively positive given that the impacts of the coronavirus were beginning to be felt toward the end of the first quarter. However, we expect the second quarter closures at both operations to hit the company’s production and revenue. Whether production will be caught up later in the year remains to be seen.