As grades fall and costs rise, the majors act on plans to goose production in the near term

By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer

Buenaventura’s top four mines face declining grade, and the combined total production from them, including Yanacocha, has fallen for five straight years. It fell almost 20% year-over-year (yoy) in 2016 and 12% in 2017. When Cerro Corona (Gold Fields) and Lagunas Norte (Barrick) are added, the numbers reveal total gold production by Peru’s top six biggest mines has also fallen for five straight years. It plummeted 17% yoy in 2013, 19% in 2016 and 8% in 2017. It is off to a staggering 43% from 2012. Meanwhile, prices and thus net incomes are on the rise. For example, Buenaventura raised net income 119% yoy in 2017. Q4 raw earnings hit $254 million, an increase of 38% over the same period in 2016. This is allowing the mines to advance life-extension projects, a couple of which will change the identity of the mines, the miners, and the country, as it slips from the ranks of the world’s top gold producers and secures its status as second only to Chile in copper production.