Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Industrials

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

FCX Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Freeport-McMoRan Inc  (NYSE: FCX) Q2 2021 earnings call dated Jul. 22, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Mark J. Johnson — Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Joshua F. Olmsted — President and Chief Operating Officer-Americas

Michael J. Kendrick — President – Climax Molybdenum Co.

Analysts:

Emily ChiengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

David GaglianoBMO — Analyst

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Alex HackingCiti — Analyst

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Orest WowkodawScotiabank — Analyst

Abhi AgarwalDeutsche Bank. — Analyst

Michael GlickJPMorgan — Analyst

Michael DudasVRP — Analyst

Matthew MurphyBarclays — Analyst

Jatinder GoelExane BNP Paribas — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Freeport-McMoRan Second Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Ms. Kathleen Quirk, President and Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead, ma’am.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, and good morning, and welcome to the Freeport-McMoRan Second Quarter Conference Call. FCX released results earlier this morning, and a copy of today’s press release and slides are available on our website at fcx.com. Our conference call today is being broadcast live on the Internet, and anyone may listen to the call by accessing our website homepage and clicking on the webcast link for the conference call. In addition to analysts and investors, the financial press has been invited to listen to today’s call, and a replay of the webcast will be available on our website later today. Before we begin our comments, we’d like to remind everyone that today’s press release and certain of our comments on the call include forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially. I’d like to refer every one to the cautionary language included in our press release and presentation materials and to the risk factors described in our SEC filings.

On the call with me today are Richard Adkerson, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Mark Johnson, our Chief Operating Officer for Indonesia; Josh Olmsted, our Chief Operating Officer for the Americas; Mike Kendrick, who leads our molybdenum business; Rick Coleman, who leads our construction and growth projects; and Steve Higgins, our Chief Administrative Officer. I’ll start by briefly summarizing our financial results, and then we’ll turn the call over to Richard, who will review our outlook in the slide presentation materials that have been provided to you. As usual, after our remarks, we’ll open up the call for questions. Today, FCX reported second quarter 2021 net income attributable to common stock of $1.08 billion or $0.73 per share. That included net charges totaling $56 million or $0.04 per share detailed on Page VII of our press release. Adjusted net income attributable to common stock totaled $1.14 billion or $0.77 per share. Our adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter of 2021 totaled $2.7 billion. And you can find a reconciliation of our EBITDA calculations on Page 35 of our slide deck materials. We had a strong second quarter.

Our copper sales of 929 million pounds and gold sales of 305,000 ounces were significantly above the year ago quarter, but our sales were approximately 5% lower for copper and 8% lower for gold relative to our recent estimates, primarily reflecting the timing of shipments from Indonesia. Our annual guidance is consistent with our prior estimates. Our results in the second quarter benefited from strong pricing. Our second quarter average realized copper price of $4.34 a pound was 70% higher than the year ago quarterly average. Our net unit cash cost of $1.48 per pound of copper on average in the second quarter was slightly above our estimate going into the quarter of $1.42 per pound, but that primarily related to nonrecurring charges associated with a new four-year labor agreement at Cerro Verde. Operating cash flow generation was extremely strong, totaling $2.4 billion during the quarter. That included $0.5 billion of working capital sources. And our operating cash flow significantly exceeded our capital expenditures of $433 million during the quarter. Our consolidated debt totaled $9.7 billion at the end of June. And our consolidated cash and cash equivalents totaled $6.3 billion at the end of June. Net debt was $3.4 billion at the end of the quarter, and we achieved our targeted net debt level several months ahead of our schedule.

I’d now like to turn the call over to Richard, and we’ll be reviewing the slide materials that have been provided. Go ahead, Richard.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Thanks, everybody, for joining us. We are really pleased to reporting what’s now becoming a string of really strong operating performances for our company. And with this great positive outlook for our business, we’re all really enthusiastic about it. Hoping all of you are staying healthy through this pandemic. Vaccinations are giving us an opportunity to protect ourselves and those around us, and we’re working hard to encourage our people globally to take full advantage of this opportunity whenever possible. Our teams are working safely. We remain diligent with our COVID protocols that have been so effective. With the recent rise in cases globally, we are refocusing, redoubling our efforts, restoring some protocols that we had loosened to keep our team and communities safe. Our results in the second quarter demonstrate really strong execution of our plans, really strong and favorable pricing for our products. Kathleen mentioned the shipping issue. Logistics is an issue globally. We’ve been able to — we basically met or slightly exceeded our production targets. We’ve been able to ship everything we produced. We would have beat our sales target. We also, common in the mining industry, had some one-off type issues affecting production. Without those and with shipping, we would have had a real strong beat on our previous guide. Really important, our Grasberg underground ramp-up is proceeding on schedule.

This is a remarkable and, I would say, a historic success for both our company and even the mining industry. Our team in Indonesia is doing remarkable and outstanding work. And this is building value for our shareholders and long-term, sustainable, low-cost values for the future. Production. We’re making money in the Americas. Copper prices — production in the U.S. is increasing. Our Lone Star project in Eastern Arizona is really exciting. We have a series of ongoing value-enhancing opportunities in the U.S. in front of us. And I’m personally really encouraged about future growth in the U.S. The South America teams in Peru and Chile are navigating the pandemic effectively. We’re restoring production that we have curtailed a year ago. We have achieved these outstanding financial results made possible by the hard work and investments we’ve been making for many years. We are now generating significant cash flows, which will be sustainable for years in the future. This quarter alone, we had $2 billion of cash flow after capital spending. That’s just remarkable considering where we were just a year ago. Kathleen mentioned, and it’s notable that we reached our debt target several months earlier than our forecast earlier this year. We ended the quarter with $3.4 billion of net debt, and that’s within the targeted range we set at $3 billion to $4 billion. We’ve reduced our debt by like 60% over the past year. We’re now positioned in accordance with the financial policy that our Board adopted earlier this year and that we disclosed to the market to shift our capital allocation priorities by increasing cash returns to shareholders as we make disciplined investments for future growth of our business. This policy will allow us to maintain a strong balance sheet with high-grade credit metrics while providing cash for increasing shareholder returns and investing in our company’s long-term future.

Slide four talks about how we’re devoting significant attention and resources to sustainability initiatives. And this has always been key to our company and a position of our company. We are committed to the sustainability principles of ICMM. We’re also moving to certify all of our operations with The Copper Mark, a relatively new industry framework developed by the International Copper Association to ensure responsible production consistent with UN sustainability development goals. To date, we lead the industry with six of our operations now certified. In the second quarter, we submitted five additional operating sites for this initiative, and we’ve committed to validate all of our sites to this robust framework. Responsible production is critical in building and maintaining trust, which we’ve earned over the years through long-standing partnerships with communities as we deliver a product, copper, valued by society, produced in safe, environmentally sound, innovative manner. Slide five talks about electrification, which is key to copper. Majority of copper goes into generating and transmitting electricity, and copper is critical in every aspect of achieving low carbon goals for the global economy. This ranges from electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure to clean energy from wind and solar. Copper is just simply essential to a green economy. This transition is now just beginning to unfold. It will add significantly to future demand for copper. And as the global leading copper producer, Freeport is solidly positioned to benefit from this higher future demand. In addition, now companies around the world are responding to COVID with aggressive physical and monetary policies. This alone is creating important near-term copper demand beyond China.

And China’s consumption remains strong. There are some mixed economic signals. But even with that, demand for copper in China is strong. And now as higher consumption is being generated from economic recovery in developed countries around the world, and that’s even in the face of an important sector of copper demand, automobiles, which is being constrained by this chip problem. So this increasingly important incremental demand outside China, the long-term growth from global — from growth in emerging markets just is very positive for our outlook. Copper demand is also expanding from technology advances in communications, artificial intelligence applications, expanding connectivity through global infrastructure initiatives and efforts to improve health through using copper to fight viruses and other infections. Slide six talks about this growing demand, the global challenges in maintaining much less growing supply makes the outlook for copper, compelling. I would say compelling is an understated word. Really, really positive and enthusiastic about it. This recent pullback in copper pricing that we’ve seen has not altered in any way our conviction, but the favorable long-term outlook for copper. This is a decision we made years ago, which underscores our strategy at Freeport to focus on copper because of its favorable fundamentals, the nature of our assets and our team. There are always actions that influence sentiment in short-term pricing at any point in time. So beyond that, indisputable facts support a positive fundamental outlook for copper. Demand growth is inevitable. Maintaining supply or growing supply is challenged. Our prices will be required to support major new investments in copper. Rising demand, scarcity of supplies point to large impending structural deficit, supporting much higher future copper prices. Our company has high-quality assets, industry-leading experience, highly motivated team will allow us to benefit from these fundamentals. Portfolio of assets in the copper business is rare, if not unique, in our industry. It would be difficult, if not impossible to replicate these assets. With strong growing production, embedded brownfield, low-risk growth from our large portfolio of undeveloped resources, our assets are extremely valuable in today’s world and will become more valuable as these market develops — market deficits emerge in the future.

Slide seven highlights our growing margins and cash flows. We’ve had meaningful volume growth in recent quarters that you’ve all seen. This growth will continue. For the year 2021, copper value — copper volumes are projected to increase 20%; gold volume, 55% over 2020. Then looking forward to 2022, we’ll see a further growth of 15% to 20% over 2021 levels. The capital and execution risk to achieve these higher volumes are largely behind us. Our volumes will — with low incremental costs, we yield expanding margins at prices ranging from $4 to $5 per pound for copper. We’ve generated annual EBITDA for ’22 and ’23 of $12 billion to $17 billion of copper with capital expenditures in the range of $2.5 billion a year. Looking back, there was always an overhang for report related to execution risk with this underground development, political risk in Indonesia, debt levels. If you look back over the past three years, we have met and mitigated all of these major risks that were overhanging our company, and it’s been a really exciting and gratifying time for our company. Slide eight highlights the great progress we’re making with the Grasberg underground ramp-up. I just met with Mark Johnson and his team in Indonesia and really congratulating them on the fabulous work they’re doing even in the face of COVID. In the second quarter, we achieved just under 80% of our target annualized run rate for metal sales. We’re on track to reach full rates of metal production by the end of the year.

And our team in Indonesia has just done a fabulous job in the face of dealing with pandemic and a challenging physical environment. We executed well-designed operating protocols. We’re dealing with this new upturn in cases in Indonesia in recent weeks. We’re helping to support the government and our local community. We’ve implemented travel, other restrictions to mitigate the spread. We’re encouraged by the increasing availability of vaccines at our job site and generally in Indonesia. A number of our workers — a significant number have already received vaccines — have received vaccines. We have a goal of providing vaccines to all of our workforce in the second half of the year, and we’re supporting nearby communities in their efforts to respond to COVID. We have a real strong support from the government of Indonesia, a real positive partnership with PT-FI state home shareholders on that shareholder mine and they were all working together and are aligned. I’ve been working in Freeport for 30 years — over 30 years. And I’m personally proud and gratified by our team’s accomplishments since we began investing in the underground over 20 years ago, transition from the open pit that began 18 months ago and dealing with COVID, it’s just remarkable what we’ve been able to do. Planning and investing in this transition began in the 1990s. Now experiencing this success is special for all of us at Freeport. We now look forward to continuing long-term success at Grasberg by building value to this world-class historic mining district with low-cost, high-volume and sustainable production. Slide nine shows the multiple options for brownfield low-risk growth across our global portfolio. Increasingly encouraged by the opportunities in the U.S. where we have favorable community support across the board with where we operate, favorable tax situation and a long history of working in a responsible way. We are expanding our mine production at Lone Star, Bagdad, other sites.

And we have exciting new opportunities from technology evolving leach recovery from our historical operations. The Lone Star mine, our newest operation situated adjacent to our long-standing operations in Southeast Arizona. There, we have strong community support, and this new mine is performing above design capacity. We’re evaluating expansions of Lone Star’s oxide ores. We’re actually making a lot of money in what normally would be stripping operations. We’re conducting long-range planning for the development of a potentially world-class sulfide resource that lies beneath this oxide cover in our historical mining area. We have an opportunity and a strong likelihood of moving forward with constructing a new concentrator to double production in our Bagdad mine in Northwest Arizona. We expect to commence this project next year. Emerging leaching technology, which I am pumped about, provides substantial opportunities for added growth across our portfolio of global resources. We are evaluating an attractive expansion operation — expansion opportunity at our El Abra mine in Chile where we’re partners with CODELCO. This project would require significant capital investment and long lead time, but it’s attractive and large. Major future expansion in El Abra is likely, but not now. We are deferring investment decision on this project until we have more clarity about the mining policy issues currently under consideration by the government in Chile. We’re also evaluating development of an underground deposit of Kucing Liar in the Grasberg district operated by PT-FI. This copper gold resource involves a large block cave mine using the substantial infrastructure that we already have in place. We have expertise, long track record. Mark Johnson and his team has come up with revised development plans that make the project less capital-intensive. The economic is better. It’s a large operation. It would be a block cave with about 90,000 tonnes per day. So that’s a real big, six billion tonnes of copper resource, six million ounces of gold, and it fits right in with our plans.

We have additional opportunities to invest in projects to support our copper — our carbon reduction, our sustainability goals, including investing to develop clean renewable energy for our operations and communities. We’re advancing plans for an exciting ESG-type project to recover metals from the recycle of electronic devices at our Atlantic Copper processing facilities in Spain. Bottom line, we’re going to be disciplined in devoting capital to new investments. We’re going to be focused on value-added projects supported by long life reserves. We have a long track record of success in developing projects. We have established license to operate and positive relationship and support from communities where we have the opportunities to invest. Slide 10 goes back to Lone Star, shows we’re meeting, exceeding expectation. Original plan was 75,000 tonnes a day, 200 million pounds of copper. We now exceeded this, reaching the targeted rate of 95,000 tonnes a day. On a sustained basis, we have takeouts capacity to do this to yield 285 million pounds of copper. Looking at a further increment that would involve a relatively small investment in tank houses, mining equipment to produce 300-or-more pounds of copper, 50% more our than original design. The project view though is longer term. We have a major opportunity for Lone Star to become a cornerstone asset for our company. Potential resource is 10 times more than our current reserve. As we mine these oxide ores, we’re gaining access to this underlying potentially massive sulfide resource. Long-term cornerstone asset for our company. Slide 11 talks about this reference I made earlier through reaching technology, gaining additional copper from material that’s already mined. We’re progressing this. We have lots of opportunities to apply. It’s an exciting potentially high-value opportunity with low incremental cost and low carbon footprint. We’re engaged in multiple studies using a range of different technologies internally and externally to capture this value from existing stockpiles. Our estimate now is for 38 billion pounds of copper in these stockpiles.

This is material that’s already been mined. And if we can recover just 10% to 20% of this material, it would be like having a major new mine with variable capital and operating costs. A significant portion of this is in our flagship Morenci mine, the largest mine in North America, where we are now applying artificial intelligence, data analytics to help us understand what’s going on with these leaching performance opportunities. Our team historically was an instrumental in unlocking substantial values years ago with the new SXEW technology. We are now focused on taking this leaching technology to the next level by using modern approaches to it. We’ve established a cross-functional team of technical experts, metallurgists, mine planners, data scientists, geologists, business analysts all working together to take full advantage of this really exciting opportunity. Slide 12. We have strong operating franchises in the U.S., South America and Indonesia, gained the trust and respect of our partners, our customers, suppliers, financial markets, and more importantly, the workers, communities and host governments where we operate. We have significant large-scale project development, operating expertise. Team Freeport has all the capabilities to undertake new projects in a responsible, efficient manner. I want to close on slide 13 by recognizing the people of Freeport. All around the world, their commitment, dedication, resilience, positive outlook, cooperative spirit is just gratifying. Our team is passionate about the role we’re going to play in achieving a better and more sustainable future for everyone. Team Freeport has the capabilities and drive to continue to meet, exceed our own high level of expectations and those of our stakeholders. We’re living in a great — a time of great challenge and exceptional opportunity for our business. At our team, we’re meeting the challenges, embracing the opportunities. Our future is bright. We at Freeport are charging ahead responsibly, reliably and relentlessly.

Kathleen, I’ll turn the call back over to you to talk about our financial results.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Okay. Great. Thank you, Richard, and I’m going to start on slide 15 and just make some brief comments on our operating matters and go through our financials, and then we’ll open it up for questions. Richard talked about the great progress we’re making at Lone Star. We’re very focused now on sustaining the rates to keep our tankhouse full there, which has a capacity of 285 million pounds per year of copper and looking at potential increments beyond that with relatively small and attractive investments. Richard also mentioned our plans at Bagdad. We’re advancing studies to double the capacity there and hope to be in a position to qualify a project and commence a project there next year. At Morenci, we’ve started to increase our mining rates, which had been curtailed in the last 12 months. We averaged about 725,000 tonnes per day of mining material in the second quarter and are ramping up to reach 800,000 tonnes per day by the end of this year, going to 900,000 tonnes a day in 2023. We’ve also advanced from 2022 the restart of some of Morenci milling capacity. That was also idled last year to reduce cost. Now with the improvement in copper prices, these actions result in more profitable production. We’re also very encouraged by the opportunity to add low-cost production at Morenci through our leach technology initiatives. In South America, the teams are continuing to work to restore production to prepandemic levels.

We continue to target a full restoration at Cerro Verde in 2022. And we’ve been running at about 95% of the mill capacity in recent months. You’ve seen in our press release that the Cerro Verde team reached a new four-year labor agreement with a significant percentage of the workforce during the second quarter. That was in advance of our labor agreement exploration, which is coming up at the end of August of this year. We’re very pleased with the win-win outcome of the agreement and now working to conclude a mutually satisfactory agreement with the balance of employees. At El Abra in Chile, we’re well on our way to restoring production levels that were curtailed last year. We’re increasing the stacking rate of material on the leach pads and moving forward to add a new leach pad to accommodate the higher rates. This is capital that was always part of our plan, but was deferred last year as part of the capital conservation plans that we rolled out in April of last year. This allows El Abra to increase production on a sustained basis to about 200 million to 250 million pounds per annum for the next several years as we assess opportunities for a major expansion there. As Richard talked about at Grasberg, we’re continuing to deliver results and generating strong cash flows.

As you recall, we started the second quarter with significantly more concentrate inventory than we normally carry with the strong production volumes and some maintenance downtime at our port, weather issues at quarter end, sales were below our earlier estimates in the quarter. This is really a short-term timing issue, and we expect to be able to work inventory levels down in the second half of this year. We successfully commissioned at Grasberg the second crusher at our Grasberg Block Cave during the quarter, and that will provide sufficient capacity for a ramp-up to 130,000 tonnes per day. You’ve seen the performance and the records achieved from the Grasberg Block Cave during the quarter. We’re also moving to advance the installation of our third SAG mill there. That’s been part of our plan to support the higher rates of throughput. We’ve also identified an opportunity to invest in a new mill circuit that will allow us to increase copper and gold production in Indonesia through the achievement of higher mill recoveries when the initial phases of this project and the economics are highly attractive. Our global team also remains focused on cost management and efficiency projects to extend equipment lives, improve energy efficiency and maintenance practices with the use of technology. We have experienced some degree of cost increases this year, principally from energy price increases and, to a lesser extent, the impact on consumables of steel price increases, increased freight costs and sulfuric acid cost. We’ve had — partially offsetting these items, we’ve had the benefits of a weaker exchange rate in South America versus the U.S. dollar.

The increases in costs have been offset by significant increase in molybdenum prices in recent months, and those have provided a very nice hedge to certain of these cost inflation items. We talked on slide, you’ve seen in the release our plans for — to meet our commitments in Indonesia for the new smelter. On slide 16, we provide an update on our plans to meet the commitment that we agreed to with the Indonesian government in 2018 to construct two million tonnes per year of in-country processing facility of copper concentrate. We have been advancing the discussions with our Japanese partners to expand the existing smelter at PT Smelting. That would fulfill a portion of the obligation. And there are several financial and operating benefits of expanding this facility, which has been expanded very efficiently in the past. After considering various alternatives for the balance of the commitment, we’ve concluded that the best long-term option is to continue with our plans to construct a new greenfield smelter in East Java near the existing facilities at PT Smelting. We recently entered into an EPC contract with Chiyoda to construct a 1.7 million tonne facility there. And we’re now focused on completing the project as efficiently and as timely as possible. We show in the graph on slide 16 on the right, the estimated timing of expenditures over roughly a three-year period. FCX is responsible for 49% of these expenditures. We recently completed a new $1 billion bank credit facility for PT-FI to advance these projects and are planning additional debt financing, which can be attained at attractive rates to fund these activities. As indicated, the long-term cost of the financing expected for the smelter would be offset by a phaseout of the 5% export duty. And we show a graph on the bottom of slide 16 which shows you that the economic impact is not material as the cost of the smelter would be essentially offset in lower duties, which we’re currently paying. Slide 17 provides a three-year outlook for volumes.

These are consistent with our previous guidance. We’re continuing to pursue additional incremental near-term growth opportunities and conducting our longer-range development planning. Moving to slide 18, we show the significance of cash flow generation using these volumes and cost estimates. And the price is ranging from $4 to $5 copper and holding gold and molybdenum flat at $1,800 per ounce of gold and $16 per pound of molybdenum. What you see here on these graphs, we would generate EBITDA in the range of over $12.5 billion per annum for ’22 and ’23 on average at $4 copper to $17 billion per annum at $5 copper. And at operating cash flows, net of taxes and interest would be $9 billion to $12 billion using these price assumptions. As demonstrated in the second quarter, we’re generating very significant free cash flow, and this trend is expected to continue with cash flow significantly above our capital spending. On slide 19, we include our projected capital of $2.2 billion this year and $2.5 billion in 2022. As you’ll note, we shifted about $100 million in expenditures from 2021 to 2022, which was timing related. And we’ve advanced some capital from future years into 2022 to reflect the timing of additional leach pad construction at Lone Star and the addition of some highly attractive growth spending in Indonesia related to mill recoveries. We’ve entered a period of outstanding free cash flow generation. We’ve got growing volumes, strong markets and low capital requirements. You’ll see on slide 20, and this is backward looking, but over the last 12 months, we’ve reduced our net debt by $5 billion, and that included $2 billion in the second quarter alone. You’ll see our credit metrics are strong and less than 0.5 times EBITDA on a trailing 12-month basis.

And we’re projecting our credit metrics to continue to be strong and improving. As Richard mentioned, we achieved our targeted net debt level several months ahead of our schedule with our long-lived asset base and growing production profile and strong markets. We’ll have the ability to continue to strengthen our balance sheet, provide increasing cash returns to shareholders and build additional values in our asset base. The slide on 21 just reiterates our financial policy. We have performance-based payout policy, which was established by our Board earlier this year, providing up to 50% of free cash flow, would be used for shareholder returns with the balance available for growth and further balance sheet improvements. And with the recent achievement of our net debt target, we expect our Board will consider additional payouts to shareholders with our 2021 results. We’re looking forward to reporting on our continued progress and continuing to build additional values as we go forward.

And now operator, we’d like to open the call up for questions.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Kathleen, I want to put an exclamation point on your — the comments you made about cost management. Everyone is focused on inflation around the world and the impact on mining companies. And as Kathleen said, we’ve had higher energy costs, higher grinding material cost. But Josh Olmsted and our Americas team have just done a great job in helping offset that. Mike Kendrick in running our molybdenum business, which is a primary production business and a by-product business and with higher molybdenum prices is offsetting us some of these cost increases. We’ve got a high gold price which helps us. Danny Hughes is leading our supply chain group. And so a combination of all these things is helping us as a company to really mitigate much of these increases in costs, working with logistics. So I just wanted to make a note of that because I think it’s important giving — given all of our concerns about where inflation is leading us.

So let’s do turn over to questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question will come from the line of Emily Chieng with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.

Emily ChiengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Good morning, Richard and Kathleen. Thanks for the update today and congratulations on getting to your net debt target so quickly. Maybe just following up on Kathleen’s last point then, just on capital returns. Is there a reason why you would wait till the end of full year 2021 before executing that capital returns program? And just further on that train of thought there, is there a preference yet between perhaps a special dividend, a buyback program or perhaps a shift to a variable dividend strategy? Thank you.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Emily. We’ve just reached the net debt target at the end of June. And so going forward, we would have up to 50% of the cash flows available as we generate them to consider additional payouts to shareholders. Our Board will be reviewing this. And we do expect that we will be following the policy that we’ll be paying out up to 50% of the excess cash flow.

We have not made any conclusions on whether it will be additional dividend payouts or share buybacks, and that will be something that will be considered at the time. But the commitment is there to pay strong cash returns to shareholders with our free cash flow. And we expect over the next several months to continue to generate free cash flow and then will continue into next year and beyond.

Emily ChiengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Great. That’s helpful. And a quick one, if I could squeeze it in. Just on Grasberg, I believe that the end of Q1, you reached 75% of your full production there. Can you remind us where we are today, where you’d expect to be at the end of 3Q? And that 100% production level, is that a fourth quarter average or an exit rate? Thank you.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

78% was the average…

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

So we’re just under 80% right now in terms of metal production targets. That’s well ahead of schedule. We’ll be at 100% by the end of this year.

Emily ChiengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Thank you.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

And that’s the average for the fourth quarter, Emily. So we expect to hit the run rates in the fourth quarter.

Emily ChiengGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Okay. That’s helpful. Thank you, Kathleen. Thanks, Rich.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Emily.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of David Gagliano with BMO Capital Markets.

David GaglianoBMO — Analyst

Hi. Thank you for taking my questions. I just wanted to actually ask a little bit on the CapEx. I know our capital spending changes. I know Kathleen, you flagged it, but I kind of missed some of the commentary there. Can you walk through how much of the increased — incremental sort of net increase, sorry, of $200 million is just general cost creep versus pulling projects forward? And what are those projects again? If you can just give us a little more detail on that. That’s my first question.

Then just, since I’m only getting one, I just have another part to this question, which is the — just if you could talk a little bit about the — there’s slight changes to the exit rates or extraction exit rate targets between the Block Cave and the DMLZ zone. Block Cave went up. DMLZ zone went down. And I was wondering if you could just speak to the reasons behind those changes? Thanks.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

On the capital, we shifted $100 million of capital from 2021 to 2022, and that really was a timing matter. We haven’t been spending as quickly as what was originally budgeted. So we’ve just — $100 million is related to the timing. We’ve also brought forward some capital that was in our plans in the future, dealing with constructing new leach pads at Lone Star. And then we also — the only new thing that we’ve added in 2022 is this project that we talked about with respect to increasing mill recoveries at Grasberg. And that will be spent over a multiyear period. It’s roughly $400 million in total. But we’ve got $100 million scheduled in 2022.

Ultimately, that will add volumes. We expect on the order of 50 million pounds of copper and 50,000 ounces of gold. And it’s a very attractive and short payout project. So that’s a positive. And that will be used as one of the projects, just one of many, hopefully, that will be used with our other 50% of cash flows. There really weren’t — on the second question, there really weren’t any material changes with respect to Deep MLZ and Grasberg Block Cave. We update the plans every quarter. And there were really only minor changes between the two. And really, the long-term plan for Grasberg and Deep MLZ is consistent with the previous forecast. And Mark, I don’t know if you want to add anything there, but it’s — was certainly very much in line with our previous forecast.

Mark J. JohnsonDirector, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Yes. The only minor change is throughout 2022 until, say, three years out, the mine plan is — or the mine rates are constrained by the mill throughput. What we did is there’s been some minor modifications, some of the values of GBC during this constrained period, the grades at GBC are coming up. So we swapped some of the GBC material for that higher value for slightly lower-value material from the Deep MLZ.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Dave, good to hear your voice. So let me just say the higher capital spending is a positive. We’ve come out of a period of time with capital constraints. Now we’re spending capital, not huge incremental amounts, some of it’s timing, but to create new values. And the Deep MLZ is a huge success story because we’ve successfully met and managed the size, the necessity issues that we encountered earlier. So in Mark’s point, the key to our future success is these mine rates. We need to build the mine rates up, and we’re successfully doing that. And we’re dealing with this constraint at the mill by building SAG three and making other investments. But the key to our future success with meeting our mine rate targets, and that’s been a key for 15, 20 years. And for us to be able to achieve that is just something that we all feel so good about and congratulating our team for doing that over the years.

David GaglianoBMO — Analyst

That’s helpful. Thanks very much.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Dave.

Operator

Our next question will come from the line of Chris LaFemina with Jefferies.

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Hi Richard. Hi Kathleen. Thank you for taking my question. My question was going to be about Grasberg and the shipping issues there. But actually, your answer to the last question bring something else to mind, which is your organic growth pipeline. So it’s really interesting in each quarter, you seem to identify a little bit more incremental volumes that you might be able to get out of some of your existing assets. You have this mill project, the mill recovery project at Grasberg. You have potential small expansions at Lone Star, low capital intensity, not a whole lot of new incremental volumes, but there is growth there potentially anyway that a lot of us maybe were not aware of. However, when I look at your production guidance at Grasberg or to the overall company, the guidance has not been increased to reflect any of this potential growth. And the question regarding that is that because projects are not yet reflected in guidance? Or is it just that they’re small and there’s a lot of moving parts here, and it’s kind of a rounding error to what your guidance was? So how do we think about the production beyond, say, 2022 or 2023? And how this might impact your guidance?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I think it’s the latter, Chris. The Grasberg mill project wouldn’t come in, in terms of the recoveries until 2024. And it’s within the rounding. But I do believe we have some upside as we look forward. I do believe we have some upside on a consolidated basis from these initiatives that potentially could come into 2022 and 2023.

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Okay. Thanks for that.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Chris, let me say this is a complicated business. I mean we get to these numbers and we look and see how good they look. But underneath that, there are always unexpected things that jump up. And in terms of — there’s a new challenge in measuring grade. These column heights in the underground development are large. And so being able — we had higher grades first quarter, slightly lower grades in the second. That’s just going to be a feature of what we have to deal with. So there are just a lot of moving parts. Our team around the world keeps finding ways to incrementally improve things. Those will unfold into our numbers over time, and there’ll be a lot of moving parts.

Shipping, for those of you who follow us for a long period of time, know that, that’s always a timing issue at Grasberg. Our port there is a very shallow point, a shallow sea there. We have a relatively complicated historical loading operation there. We have to lighter concentrate out to ships and weather shipping schedules. Logistic issues will always have a timing impact. I just come back again, the real key to us is mine rates, finding ways to incrementally improve things, and that’s just an ongoing process that we see.

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Sorry, is the shipping — some of the shipping issues at Grasberg, many of which are kind of ordinary, normal types of things, is there a COVID impact there as well? Was that a factor in the last quarter? Or was that not a reason for the shipping problem?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

No, not really. We had some maintenance that we were doing on the ship loaders, which impacted us earlier in the quarter. And then we got hit by weather at the end of the quarter. So that was really — it wasn’t really COVID related.

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Okay.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

We took early action to — I mean, this is just an example. It wasn’t major, but it has an impact. We have concentrate pipeline to go from the highlands down to the port. We have a scheduled plan maintenance. Some things happen, we had to advance that planned maintenance. So nothing unusual, this is typical of our operations there since we started ramping up the Grasberg in the 1990s. And so it will be part of the things we’ll have to deal with in the future. It’s just not the focus of our success. The focus of our success is this mine rate ramp-up.

Chris LaFeminaJefferies — Analyst

Understood. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Alex Hacking with Citi.

Alex HackingCiti — Analyst

Yeah. Hi. Good morning, Rich and Kathleen. You have the slide on the new leaching technology. I’m very curious in your view on this low-grade sulfide chalcopyrite leaching technology. It seems very promising, there’s a lot of impressive people associated with it. It sounds like you guys are testing it out. How do you — I mean, firstly, what’s your view on the technology? Does it seem promising to you? And then how do you judge sort of the potential future impact on Freeport and the copper industry more broadly? Like 10 years from now, if this technology plays out, how much additional copper do you think that Freeport could be producing? And how much additional copper do you think could be produced globally using this technology? Thank you.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

So Alex, thanks for the question. It’s — I want to be clear, there’s not one technology in play here. There’s a series of efforts by different parties to develop different technologies. We have our own R&D work going on, and we’re looking across the board at how this might apply to us. I think we are especially situated to take advantage of it, because we have these large number and size of past leaching operations, some of which are now totally inactive that we can look to apply these to.

So we have a special opportunity in industry. Others have some, but we have a special opportunity to do — to look at this in two ways. One of it is to use the leaching technology.

And by the way, we’re supplementing that with this artificial intelligence, data analytics opportunity to measure the impact of all this, but to apply this to an active and existing leaching, leach pads that we have a large abundance for.

So that’s one thing. And then, aspirationally, it might provide a way to recover material from mining operations that would otherwise have to be recovered through mill investments.

And it could be, and this is looking ahead, an opportunity to minimize capital by recovering low-grade sulfide deposits that would otherwise have to be mined and milled. So it’s early stages.

We don’t have complete answers. I just want to share with you how exciting it is. It’s an opportunity for us, opportunity throughout the industry. This is not a shale oil-type game changer for the fundamentals of copper supply.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

The — on slide 11, the 38 billion pounds that are identified here, that represents material that’s already been mined that is not in our reserves, not in any of our production plans.

And so just recovering, a small, small percentage of that ends up being potentially, over time, a fairly large number. But Josh, do you want to make some comments on your perspectives?

Joshua F. OlmstedPresident and Chief Operating Officer-Americas

Sure. Thanks, Kathleen. Yeah, just as Richard and Kathleen have talked to, it’s really exciting with respect to the opportunity there.

The thing that I think for us that’s unlocking it even more than just the various technologies that are out there that we’re studying and researching and running different pilot tests on is the combination of that with the data analytics that Richard touched on.

The data analytics that — and the processes that we learned over the last several years in our application of that technology on the milling side has now opened our eyes to opportunities on the leaching side. And that in combination with the various technologies is really exciting for us, because it’s allowing us to look at things in a way that we haven’t ever looked at previously.

And we’ve started to see some of the benefits of that at Morenci as we’ve done some of this pilot work. And that’s what’s really getting us excited about what the potential is going forward.

The other thing that I would note is, as Richard said, it’s not a, what I would call, a fundamental game changer or a step change for the industry, and it happens overtime. But it’s really low incremental cost, low carbon footprint and an incremental adder as we go forward.

But it’s really exciting. There’s lots of energy. If I think about the similar things that we saw with our agile efforts earlier, we’re seeing similar things on the leaching side as we engage with various levels of the organization.

The employee engagement, the excitement and the passion and the ideas that they’re bringing to the table in combination with the models that we’re generating is really going to, I think, un-tap — or tap into, I should say, these opportunities and bring value forward for us.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Our guy, Cory Stevens, is leading this. I had a session with this new team that’s been formed. It’s a large — for Freeport, it’s a large number of people. Rick Coleman and his guys are adding to this. And I just walked away from, this is a new opportunity.

You’ve heard me talk about years — for years about the outlook for the copper market being so positive, the assets that we have, the undeveloped reserves, the undeveloped resources we have.

This is beyond that. This is not even — it’s not reserves, of course. It’s not in our resources. So this is a brand-new opportunity that could be significant for Freeport. And nobody is better situated than us to take advantage of it.

Alex HackingCiti — Analyst

Thanks. I really appreciate the color.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Alex HackingCiti — Analyst

I’ve got some other — sorry, I was going to say, I’ve read some of the comments that this could maybe at 5% to global copper production in the long run. So — but it sounds like you potential game changer. I appreciate the comment. Thanks.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Way too early to say that, Alex. Way too early.

Alex HackingCiti — Analyst

Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Carlos De Alba with Morgan Stanley.

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Yes. Thank you very much. Just continuing on the growth opportunities, I wonder if you could update us on the 200 million pounds per year target that you had before the pandemic driven by the innovation and productivity enhancements in the Americas. Is that yet another growth opportunity for you guys? Or is more — or is that now embedded in the projects that you have been describing just now in this call?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

That is embedded. We’ve continued that project. We internalized it. We were doing some external work. And we — to cut back on capital and operating, we externalize — internalized it. And that agile work way and using artificial intelligence is embedded now in everything that we do. So that is in our plans. I’d say the one area where it’s not is at Cerro Verde because we have not been able to get the mill running roughly 95% of the pre-pandemic levels. We had plans prior to that to move well above 400,000 tonnes a day. And so I think with the pandemic passing at some point, we will be able to go back to those initiatives at Cerro Verde, and those are not in our plans. But in the US, they are…

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

This is not like building a concentrator. It’s a onetime deal. It’s an ongoing deal. We’ll continue to add it. As Kathleen said, we’ve been limited to what we could do with Cerro Verde, where — mine rate ramp-up at Grasberg, we haven’t yet brought all those new tools and skills and opportunities, technology in the future. So this is not a onetime deal, but an ongoing part of our business going forward, and our teams really bought into it.

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

All right. That’s clear. And then, just if I may ask on the smelter financing. So the idea is still to get project financing for this venture initiative. And that means that from a cash flow perspective for Freeport, it doesn’t jeopardize the potential increase in dividends or returns to shareholders, correct, that you will be getting the money from the banks or whoever you get the money from, and therefore, the cash flow generation that the company has still allows for you guys to pay dividends and buy back shares.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Correct. That’s correct. The debt service would affect our dividend to the — with the duty phase-out. So really, the dividends — to be impacted.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

And it’s definitely — the cost of the smelter are tax deductible to PT-FI.

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

By the financing cost, you mean return?

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

No, I’m talking about the operating costs and so forth.

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Oh, yes. All right. Okay.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Appreciation. This is all at the PT-FI level. You nailed it, Marcos, in your analysis. I’m just pointing out that you’ve got the relief from the 5% export duty. You’ve got an operation where the depreciation and operating costs are tax deductible in the consolidated Indonesian tax return for PT-FI, which is –. The government gets almost 50% of the economics at PT-FI through taxes and royalties. Now they have an equity ownership of 50%. So, 70% or more of the economics of Indonesia go to the government. FCX retains the interest, essentially all the interest we had going into these, I didn’t think we could do. But what a fabulous outcome for all parties we had in 2018.

Carlos De AlbaMorgan Stanley — Analyst

All right, excellent. Thank you very much.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Carlos.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Carlos.

Operator

The next question comes from the line of Orest Wowkodaw with Scotiabank.

Orest WowkodawScotiabank — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Just given what’s happening in Chile and Peru with respect to potentially materially higher taxation of royalties in the future, I’m just wondering if that is changing your thinking at all in terms of future growth and whether we could see Freeport look to perhaps develop deposits outside of those countries in some of the emerging fronts, maybe something like Ecuador or others?

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

An excellent point. 40% of today’s copper supply comes from Chile and Peru, 40%. And now we have both countries going through a political process that’s looking to get more for the governments away from the miners. We don’t know how all this will turn out and it’s going to take time to know that. Just certified, the new President in Peru. Chile has got a long-term process looking at their constitution. We’ve already said that the impact in Chile is causing us to delay a decision on a world-class expansion opportunity we have in El Abra. Other miners are also going to be affected by this. We really don’t know what the outcome is. Bottom line, this is going to be supportive of future copper prices.

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Our US assets are more valuable to the — to your second point, we’re not planning to go outside of our geographic footprint. We have opportunities in the US and elsewhere.

Orest WowkodawScotiabank — Analyst

Okay. And just as a follow-up. I mean, I know you have a stability agreement in place at Cerro Verde. I think till about — I think it’s about 2029. But I mean given some of the comments from the new President in Peru, I mean, how much confidence do you have that, that’s going to be honored?

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Well, if you look back over our shoulder, there have been other presidents in Peru over time that have gone into office with similar types of comments, and when they get into office, the reality of the importance of the mining industry to support their economies become self-evident. We don’t know now. We’re working with the rest of the industry in Peru to present the case about the importance of copper mining to that country. But we will have to work our way through this. It is an uncertainty.

We don’t have significant growth opportunities in Peru, but we have a very substantial operation at Cerro Verde that’s significant terms of our current and future levels of copper production. And so it wouldn’t be helpful or instructive to try to place the outcome for all this. We do have a strong stabilization agreement, which we — which is relatively new, replacing an older one. It’s stronger. But as we’ve always done, we’ll work with the industry. We’ll try to work cooperatively with the government, communities to contribute to Indonesia’s efforts to relieve poverty, I mean, Peru’s efforts to relieve poverty in that country.

Orest WowkodawScotiabank — Analyst

Thank you for the color.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Abhi Agarwal with Deutsche Bank.

Abhi AgarwalDeutsche Bank. — Analyst

Thanks. Thank you. Morning Richard and Kathleen. Thanks so much for the call.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Abhi AgarwalDeutsche Bank. — Analyst

I just had one follow-up question to the previous question. So given that you are focusing on Bagdad and Lone Star resource development over the next year, I know its early days, but when do you think you’ll be able to make a decision? And is there any sort of capex guidelines here?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Well, with Lone Star, we’re working this incrementally. We’ve already been running at higher than the design rate. And we’ve got plans and studies looking at, is there a further increment, and those will be sorted out in the next several months.

With respect to Bagdad, that is a major project. And we’re advancing our engineer — our studies, feasibility studies. We’re looking at all facets of water and tailings. And as I said, I’m hopeful that we will be in a position to be able to qualify that project next year. We don’t have the final capital expenditure estimates. We’ve been working to try to find mill setups that would be lower capital intensity than a traditional mill, but that work is still underway.

Abhi AgarwalDeutsche Bank. — Analyst

Got it. Thank you. And if I could squeeze in one more question, please. So if I look at slide seven with — the deck at slide seven and compare it to the one — Q1, the EBITDA sensitivities haven’t changed even though the gold price and the moly price assumptions have gone up. So is that basically a function of unit costs being assumed to be higher in ’22, ’23? Or am I — did I miss something?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

No. We do have some higher costs baked into our numbers with respect to the items we talked about earlier, principally energy. And the — more than offsetting the impact for these higher gold and molybdenum prices. But these are order of magnitude, rounded numbers, should be slightly above these numbers, but we just continued with the order of magnitude that we previously presented. But we are including some cost inflation in our revised forecast.

Abhi AgarwalDeutsche Bank. — Analyst

Got it. Thank you very much.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Michael Glick with JPMorgan.

Michael GlickJPMorgan — Analyst

Hey. Good morning. Just one question for me. As it relates to the drought in the Southwestern US, I mean, it seems like a pretty tough situation there. I know agriculture is a lot bigger deal than mining in terms of water usage. But could you maybe speak to any potential impacts from that on operations and cost and just remind us of your water agreements in place?

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

It’s a — it is a concern, the level of Colorado River, which is one of the major sources of water for our operations. But this is not a new problem. We’ve been dealing with this consistently over the years. And we have taken steps with communities, with Native American groups, with the farming community to deal with it. So we don’t see — we see this as an ongoing process that we will have to devote resources and management to. We don’t see any kind of crisis emerging. But we’re going to work cooperatively with everybody to try to conserve water. I mean we do a great job right now with our conservation, reuse of water and — but it’s going to be an ongoing management deal. All of that’s built into our current cost structure, and we don’t anticipate major changes in that looking forward.

Michael GlickJPMorgan — Analyst

Understood. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Michael Dudas with VRP.

Michael DudasVRP — Analyst

Good morning Richard and Kathleen. Turning back to the smelter with the time line of a 2024 completion. Has Chiyoda, I’m sure is a competitive process, is it a fixed price contract? Is there a healthy enough contingency to take or to respect all the potential changes with COVID and the supply chain issues, which everybody is starting to worry more about? And is there a comfort level that the government, along with PT-FI is with those the type of contract structure that could be there to achieve that target?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

There is contingency in our estimate. It is not a fixed price contract for all the reasons that you just mentioned. We want to be able to help manage the cost and didn’t want to have a lot of risk baked into the capital that may or may not occur. So we felt this was the right structure. There’s risk sharing within the contract. The government understands the situation in terms of COVID. We were delayed over the last 12, 15 months associated with the project. And the current situation is something we’re also monitoring very closely. But we’re keeping the government informed regularly about the time line. And our commitment is — with Chiyoda is to get this done as timely as possible, but recognizing there are certain things that will be outside of our control like the current COVID situation.

Michael DudasVRP — Analyst

And that $2.8 billion, a big change for maybe what was thought about two, three, four, several years ago?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Well, the scope is different. We had previously — we were thinking of having two lines at the smelter for two million tonnes total, and we reduced it to 1.7 million because of the expansion opportunity at PT Smelting. So the scope is a little different. And yes, there have been some changing cost factors. You’ve seen all the — what those are in terms of where construction costs are currently. But we’ve done a good bit of value engineering over this period with Chiyoda. All parties are committed to having an open book and making the smelter as successful as possible and bringing it online as cost efficiently as possible. And so we were in the range of $3 billion, $2.5 billion, $3 billion before, but there’s been some pluses and minuses, and we’re slightly above that now.

Michael DudasVRP — Analyst

The open book risk sharing is definitely the way to go here. Thanks a lot Katheen.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Matthew Murphy with Barclays.

Matthew MurphyBarclays — Analyst

Hi. And wondering, as you’re getting close to full throughput at Grasberg here, if you can give any color on underground mining costs, thinking like on a per tonne basis, where you’re at, where you’re aiming to get and is it where you had hoped to be?

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. It’s — we’re achieving where we hope to be. No question about that. We have to deal with some of these general factors. But just achieving the volumes, having the gold credit and the high grades of copper just allow us to do it. Mark, do you want to comment on this?

Mark J. JohnsonDirector, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Yes. We’ve had a lot of focus on operating unit rates. And we’re very close to where we want to be. I think there’s still some opportunities on just being more efficient with some of the mining. Obviously, at GBC, the train haulage system has proved to be very efficient. It’s a completely unmanned operation, and that’s going very well. Deep MLZ, the fracking is helping out. We’re seeing that the cave is continuing to mature, a lot less secondary blasting. So a lot of these things are settling down. But I’d say it’s very much in — within the forecast that we had. And we think there’s still some opportunities to continue to improve.

Matthew MurphyBarclays — Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our final question will come from the line of Jatinder Goel with Exane BNP Paribas.

Jatinder GoelExane BNP Paribas — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Good afternoon. Thank you for taking question. Just one question on those administrative fines in Indonesia. Now we are looking at 2024 time line. And it looks like you’ve taken a minor provision in your accounts as well. Any color you can provide on where we are on that discussion with the government? And is there any acceptability that these fines should not be levied and should not be recovered to the same extent as indicated in media previously?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. We worked with the government during the quarter and this third party that the government engaged and we engaged to review our performance against the plan and the schedule and what was related to the pandemic. And the — it looks like the fine will be in the $16 million range, which we fully accrued in the quarter. We had previously accrued $13 million. And so it looks like that is behind us. We also, with this, provided a new schedule to the government of what the progress is expected to be. And so that is what will be measured against in the future. So we’re not expecting this to be an ongoing matter. And it’s — we’re pleased with the resolution of it.

Jatinder GoelExane BNP Paribas — Analyst

Understood. That’s very clear, Kathleen. If I can ask a very quick one. On moly, how sustainable do you think current strong prices are? And do you have much flex in the system to respond with better volumes from your 2 trendy mines?

Kathleen L. QuirkPresident and Chief Financial Officer

On the latter part of that, we are looking at — we’ve been operating primary mines below their capacity. We are looking at potential options to increase production from the Climax mine. In terms of prices, we don’t predict prices. But the market, as Mike can tell you, has been very tight. And we’re seeing that continue even during the summer months. I don’t know, Mike…

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Mike Kendrick runs our molybdenum business, it’s a great business and leverage to prices and we’re able to flex. Mike, do you want to make a comment on that?

Michael J. KendrickPresident – Climax Molybdenum Co.

Sure. Yes. Kathleen is absolutely right that we’re looking at how we can expand production at Climax and putting together a ramp-up plan for that to respond to the economic conditions. And then with regards to price, I think the predominant feature is that the vast majority of Western molybdenum comes from by-product production. And right now, you’re starting to see that you don’t have these copper mines that are coming online. And it correlates to our general story of how important copper is, but also that it’s hard to find resources, bring them on and they come with molybdenum. So we think there’s kind of a natural correlation between the copper and the molybdenum story. And there’s definitely a structural deficit this summer, and we’ll have to see how it plays out over time.

Jatinder GoelExane BNP Paribas — Analyst

Excellent. Thank you so much.

Richard C. AdkersonChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

All right. Well, thanks, everyone. It’s exciting times. The best is yet to come, so hang on. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Disclaimer

This transcript is produced by AlphaStreet, Inc. While we strive to produce the best transcripts, it may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies. This transcript is provided as is without express or implied warranties of any kind. As with all our articles, AlphaStreet, Inc. does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company’s SEC filings. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed in this transcript constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of securities or commodities. Any opinion expressed in the transcript does not necessarily reflect the views of AlphaStreet, Inc.

© COPYRIGHT 2021, AlphaStreet, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, redistribution or retransmission is expressly prohibited.

Most Popular

Stitch Fix (SFIX) Stock: Will the innovative biz model survive virus-led slump?

The business world is still struggling to come out of the virus-induced slowdown, but it seems almost every retail segment benefited from the pandemic at some point. The vaccination drive

General Mills (GIS): Three factors that are expected to help drive growth for the food company going forward

Shares of General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) were up 3.2% on Wednesday after the company delivered better-than-expected results for the first quarter of 2022. Net sales rose 4% year-over-year to

IPO Alert: Allvue Systems sets IPO terms, to raise around $290 million

It is estimated that the alternative investments industry has expanded at a compound annual rate of 10.2% over the past ten years and had $11 trillion in assets under management

Add Comment
Loading...
Cancel
Viewing Highlight
Loading...
Highlight
Close
Top