Zinc production rebounds at Red Dog Mine
Following strong quarter, Teck raises 2021 metals guidance North of 60 Mining News – July 30, 2021
Last updated 8/5/2021 at 3:43pm
Teck Resources Ltd. July 28 reported that the Red Dog Mine produced 260,000 metric tons (573.2 million pounds) of zinc during the first six months of 2021, more than a 22% increase over the 212,300 metric tons (468 million lb) of the galvanizing metal produced at the midway point of 2020.
Likewise, the Northwest Alaska mine produced 54,300 metric tons (119.7 million lb) of lead during the first half of 2021, a 21% increase over the 44,800 metric tons (98.8 million lb) produced during the same period last year.
Red Dog had a particularly strong second quarter, producing 140,300 metric tons (309.3 million lb) of zinc, which is a 17% increase over the first three months of 2021 and a 67% jump over the second quarter of last year.
Teck attributes this strong rise in quarterly zinc production primarily to higher mill throughput, with very strong operating performance during the quarter as well as higher zinc grades.
The mill at Red Dog processed 1.19 million metric tons of ore averaging 14.1% zinc and 4.3% lead during the second quarter, compared to 859,000 metric tons of ore averaging 12.6% zinc and 3.9% lead during the same period of 2020.
The lower 2020 mill throughput was largely due to climate-related water management issues at the Northwest Alaska operation.
"Climate change is affecting conditions in the receiving environment, which limited our ability to discharge treated water in 2020, leading to increased water in the storage facilities," Teck penned in a report published earlier this year. "Throughout 2020, we completed several projects to increase storage capacity and implemented a breakthrough RACE21 project that significantly increased water treatment capability. In addition, a new water treatment plant was installed to increase the water discharge capacity when permit limitations allow. These projects removed the temporary restrictions from the mine plan put in place to manage water levels in 2020."
Higher mill throughput was also supported by continued mill optimizations related to RACE21, a companywide innovation-driven efficiency program that utilizes analytics and technology focused on unlocking significant economic value and building lasting competitive advantages for Teck.
As a result of the strong second-quarter performance, Teck now expects Red Dog to produce 510,000 to 530,000 metric tons (1.12 billion to 1.17 billion lb) of zinc during 2021, an increase from the company's 490,000 to 510,000 metric tons guidance at the beginning of the year.
Teck expects lead production from Red Dog to be in the range of 90,000 to 100,000 metric tons (198.4 million to 220.5 million lb), up slightly from the Vancouver, British Columbia-based miner's previous guidance of 85,000 to 95,000 metric tons.
The shipping season at Red Dog got underway on July 19 and Teck expects its sales of zinc in concentrate to be in the range of 180,000 to 200,000 metric tons (396.8 million to 440.9 million lb) during the third quarter of 2021, which reflects the normal seasonal pattern concentrates shipped and sold from Red Dog.