Mining giant Dundee Precious Metal copper smelter in Tsumeb has only been able to reach 35% of its usual production for the first three months of the year - as the smelter was under maintenance.
This is included in the recently released operations and financial results for the first quarter (January - March 31).
The results highlight that the concentrate smelted at Tsumeb during the first quarter of 2021 stood at 23,009 tonnes, 65% lower than the corresponding period last year of 65,010 tonnes.
The company explained that the planned Ausmelt furnace maintenance shutdown, was completed during the first quarter of 2020 originally planned for 30 days, however the maintenance shutdown was extended to 45 days, the company revealed.
"This was primarily a result of Covid-19 related safety protocols, travel restrictions and the use of remote commissioning support, as well as an increase in the scope of the maintenance work around the Ausmelt lining replacement and additional converter maintenance," the company stated.
The copper concentrate sold in the first quarter of 2021 was 7,3 million pounds, 24% lower than the corresponding period in 2020 consistent with the decrease in production as a result of lower copper grades.
Last year, during the same period the company sold 9,5 million pounds of payable copper.
Ausmelt maintenance, which also included additional furnace and converter maintenance activities, led to Dundee revising its 2021 production guidance for Tsumeb to between 200 000 tonnes and 220 000 tonnes from the previous range of 220 000 tonnes to 250 000 tonnes.
"With the completion of the planned maintenance at Tsumeb during the quarter, we are also expecting stronger smelter performance," the company revealed.
Cash cost per tonne of complex concentrate smelted at Tsumeb in the first quarter of 2021 was at US$967 (N$13 691,60) which is US$610 (N$8 636,87) higher than the corresponding period in 2020.
"Reflecting the fixed cost nature of the facility and the impact of lower volumes of complex concentrate smelted resulting from the maintenance shutdown, which was completed during the first quarter of 2021," the result shows.
In 2021, the cash cost per tonne of complex concentrate smelted is expected to range between US$450 (N$6 371,46) and US$520 (N$7 362,58) per tonne, unchanged from the previously issued guidance for 2021.
Dundee group cost of sales in the first quarter of 2021 was US$85,6 million (N$1,211 billion) lower than the corresponding period in 2020.
Due primarily to lower volumes of complex concentrate smelted at Tsumeb however, the company said the lower volume was offset by the impact of a stronger euro relative to the US dollar and higher cost per tonne gold-copper concentrate sold.
The group net earnings including the Tsumeb smelter, attributable to common shareholders from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2021 were US$20,7 million (N$293,09 million) compared to US$45,7 million (N$647,06 million) in the corresponding period in 2020.
On 5 May, Dundee declared a dividend of US$0,03 (N$0,42) per common share payable on 15 July to shareholders of record on 30 June.
As at 31 March, the company had no debt.
Dundee Precious Metals Inc. is a Canadian-based international mining company with operations and projects located in Bulgaria, Namibia and Serbia.