(Alliance News) - Antofagasta PLC on Tuesday said that it is well-positioned for growth in 2024, after reporting a revenue increase for 2023.

Antofagasta is a copper mining company, focused on projects in South America.

For the year ended December 31, Antofagasta's revenue was USD6.32 billion, 7.9% ahead of USD5.86 billion in 2022.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were up 5.4% to USD3.09 billion from USD2.93 billion a year prior.

Capital expenditure was up 13% to USD2.13 billion from USD1.88 billion, which Antofagasta said reflects the costs of phase 1 expansion at the Los Pelambres copper concentrate project in central Chile, as well as ongoing mine development at the Centinela project, northwest Argentina.

Underlying earnings per share excluding exceptional items rose 21% to 72.0 cents from 59.7 cents. Earnings per share including exceptional items was 84.7 cents, a 46% decrease from 155.5 cents in 2022.

Pretax profit before exceptional items increased by 11% to USD1.80 billion. Pretax profit including exceptional items, however, dropped 23% to USD1.97 billion.

The disparity in earnings per share and pretax profit figures is attributable to the exit from the Reko Diq project in Pakistan, Antofagasta said. The company recognised an exceptional gain of USD944.7 million relating to the 2022 disposal of its interests in Reko Diq.

Antofagasta has recommended a final dividend of 24.3 cents, bringing the full year dividend to 36.0 cent, down 40% from 59.7 cents in 2022. Its final dividend for 2022 amounted to 50.5 cents.

Copper production for the year was up 2% to 660,000 tonnes, thanks to an increased contribution from Los Pelambres following the phase 1 expansion.

Gold production rose 18% to 209,100 ounces due to higher gold grades at Centinela, the company said.

Molybdenum production was 11,000 tonnes, representing a 13% increase from 2022 due to both higher throughput rates at Los Pelambres and higher recoveries at Centinela.

Looking ahead to 2024, Antofagasta expects to produce between 670,000 and 710,000 tonnes of copper, as well as 195,000 to 215,000 ounces of gold and 11,000 to 12,500 tonnes of molybdenum.

The company warned that a successful year will hinge on copper prices remaining stable, which itself depends on growth rates in the Chinese economy and the stabilisation of the country's property sector.

In line with previous guidance, capital expenditure for the year is expected to be around USD2.7 billion, up from USD2.13 billion in 2023, as Antofagasta pursues growth projects at Centinela and Los Pelambres and development expenditure commences on Centinela's second concentrator.

Chief Executive Officer Ivan Arriagada said: "With a strong balance sheet, the company is well positioned as it enters a new phase of growth. This next growth stage includes continuing the development of the future of Los Pelambres following completion of the Los Pelambres phase 1 expansion and initiating the construction of the Centinela second concentrator project.

"The outlook for the company and its shareholders is positive - we have a solid pipeline of copper growth projects, a strong balance sheet, a focus on costs that will underpin the delivery of those projects and long-standing relationships with local communities."

Shares in Antofagasta were down 1.3% at 1,743.00 pence per share in London on Tuesday morning.

By Hugh Cameron, Alliance News reporter

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