According to Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTLM) managing director and chief executive officer, Musje Werror, and the board chairman, Roger Higgins, the company’s shift from lower grade to higher grade ore resources will be completed within the next 12 months.

They said that they had hoped OTML would have completed the transition by the end of 2022, but the pandemic’s impact on the movement in the mine has resulted in a delay to 2023.

According to OTML, copper output has been 21% lower than in 2021. This was due to a 26% drop in the grade of copper ore the company had processed. Similarly, gold output had decreased 25% compared to the previous year, resulting from a fire, Covid-19-related issues, and a 32% drop in gold grade. Despite this, company revenue was still within 6% of last year.

“This was primarily due to the copper price strengthening in 2021. The gold price was largely unchanged,” Mr Werror said.

“Total operating costs in 2021 were K190 million or seven per cent higher than the previous year. As a result, the 2021 profit after tax was K376 million, generating K331 million of free cash flow.

“This enabled the company to pay a K450 million dividend, retain K251 million of cash reserves and have no debt at year-end. In addition, OTML contributed US$675 million (about K2.3 billion) in foreign reserves to the domestic market.”

In addition, OTML has successfully been developing several umbrella firms that represent the interests of mining villages and people impacted by the mine. These companies are part of the local and regional suppliers initiative that benefits the region and the country.

“The intent is to develop companies with an operational capability and financial resilience that will exist beyond Ok Tedi. We are also looking to support initiatives that broaden the industry base beyond mining,” Mr Werror said.

Image credit Ok Tedi