Copper – coming off
the production line
 
Phoenix, USA — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 April 2009 – Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Incorporated – the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer – has started shipping the first copper cathode produced at its new Tenke Fungurume copper/cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We are looking at our first actual shipment of copper from that operation to the marketplace. The first truck shipment has left, and will take 20 to 30 days one way,” CEO Richard Adkerson told analysts on a conference call.

“That involves trucking the copper cathode from the DRC to the South Africa marketplace. It’s a test shipment, but we are producing copper there,” he said. “We have an inventory of cathodes ready for shipment,” he added.

Adkerson said Freeport had been shipping construction material on the same route for over a year. “It’s not like we’re just starting.”

"But it’s an important quarter for Tenke. The production team beat my own estimates about when we’d first be able to produce copper there," the CEO said.

Earlier this week Freeport reported that first-quarter profit had slumped sharply and revenue had dropped by more than half, as the global economic downturn weakened metal demand and prices.

“Freeport will complete its spending at Tenke roughly by mid-2009,” Adkerson said, “but spending plans continue to be reviewed and may be revised based on market conditions.”

He added that the Phoenix -based mining company was on schedule to ramp Tenke up to full capacity in the second half of 2009 to an annual production rate of 250 million lbs of copper and 18 million lbs of cobalt.