Newmont’s base metal reserves by the end of 2020 were more stable than 2019 levels, the company claimed in a press release declaring year end reserves’ levels. Copper reserves were flat to up, while zinc and lead reserves were lower than previous year.
Copper reserves increased marginally to 6.9mn mt from 6.8mn mt in 2019, up about 1pc in a year. Copper resources increased to 8mn mt of measured & indicated, and 3.9mn mt of inferred from 6.8mn mt of measured and indicated and 3.5mn mt of inferred on the back of additions at Newmont’s Nueva Union joint venture and the development of the Agua Rica joint venture.
Lead and Zinc
Lead reserves decreased 10pc in 2020 to 1.3mn mt from 1.5mn mt a year ago. Zinc reserves also dipped 8pc to 3.1mn mt from 3.4mn mt. A drop in both lead and zinc was primarily due to the depletion and the suspension of exploration activities at Peñasquito pertaining to COVID-19 limitations and halting work. Measured & Indicated zinc resources have fallen to 1.7mn mt from 1.9mn mt and Inferred zinc resources decreased to 0.8mn mt from 1.0mn mt. Measured & Indicated lead resources remained consistent at 0.8mn mt and Inferred lead resources decreased to 0.4mn mt from 0.5mn mt.
Newmont’s total exploration expenditure is for 2021 is expected to be approximately $215mn with 80 percent of total exploration investment directed to near-mine expansion programs. The remaining 20pc will be allocated to the advancement of greenfield projects and innovation programs. Of the total, 28pc is budgeted for North America, 25pc for South America and 20pc for Australia.
Newmont said that the price sensitivity of metal reserves depends upon several factors like grade, metallurgical recovery, operating cost, waste-to-ore ratio and ore type. Metallurgical recovery rates would differ depending on the metallurgical properties and the production process used.