Sandfire Resources advised it has achieved record annual copper production for the 12 months to June 30, with 68,202 metric tons (mt) of contained copper and 37,612 ounces (oz) of contained gold produced. This is above the upper end of the company’s previously announced production guidance range for full-year 2016 of 65-68,000 mt of copper and the midpoint of its guidance range of 35,000-40,000 oz of gold, following another strong and consistent performance by the DeGrussa copper-gold mine in Western Australia.

Sandfire expects to report full-year 2016 C1 unit operating costs at the lower end of its guidance band of $0.95-1.05 following the finalization of its June quarterly costs. The company has also completed another strong year of copper-gold concentrate sales with the completion and receipt of funds from three scheduled shipments in the month of June. Concentrate sales results for full-year 2016 were 282,012 mt containing 68,653 mt of copper (65,832 mt payable) and 36,042 oz of gold (33,302 oz payable).

Sandfire Managing Director Karl Simich said the continuing strong operating and financial performance of the DeGrussa mine had enabled the company to repay a significant component of its debt early despite a period of depressed copper prices, strengthening its balance sheet and putting it in a net cash positive position for the first time in four years.

“This is a very pleasing result which essentially means that we have greater flexibility and optionality in terms of financing future growth initiatives,” he said.

It also coincides with a period of reducing capital investment requirements at DeGrussa as the level of required underground mine development drops.