Minsur’s 2017 first quarter consolidated results, released last week, reveal that tin-in-concentrate production by its Brazilian subsidiary, Taboca, rose by 18% to 1,767 tonnes compared to the first quarter of last year, while Taboca’s output of refined tin rose 59% to 1,422 tonnes over the same period.
Four reasons have been provided by Minsur for the increased output of refined tin. The first is the 30% year-on-year Q1 increase in ore volume treated at Pitinga to 1.76 Mt, which is now operating at full capacity in contrast to the supply disruption created by power supply issues last year. Increased treatment of reprocessed materials, as well as higher concentrate production from tin slag retreatment, also supported production. Finally, it was stated that there was greater outsourcing of tin smelting in Q1 2017, which helped support the total refined tin output reported.
By-product cash costs from the Pitinga mine and Pirapora smelter rose by just over 1% to US$13,668 per tonne of refined tin. Productivity improvements and the cost impact of higher concentrate output and higher Ferro Niobium and Ferro Tantalum alloy by-product were more than offset by a 19% appreciation of the Brazilian Real, which increased costs in US dollar terms.
ITRI View: Minsur’s overall Q1 refined tin production in Brazil and Peru has fallen 5% year-on-year to 5,002 tonnes. Production in both countries was impacted by several weeks of scheduled maintenance and therefore the company remains on course to meet total guidance of 23,000 to 25,000 tonnes of refined tin output across both of its tin operations in 2017. In addition, it is understood that Minsur is currently investing resources in backfilling parts of the San Rafael Mine in Peru to safely access overlying higher grade tin mineralisation. It is anticipated that this area will be accessible by Q2 2018 and will help offset the loss of plant feed from low-grade ore stockpiles, which are expected to be depleted this year.