Pampa Norte copper production for FY2019 decreased by 7 per cent to 247 kt, mostly due to a fire event in the electrowinning plant at Spence in September 2018, which had a production impact of 18 kt. This was partially offset by a 19 per cent increase in production at Cerro Colorado due to higher throughput and recoveries.
The Spence Growth Option (SGO) to construct a 95 kilotonnes per day (ktpd) ore concentrator and the outsourcing of a 1,000 litre per second desalination plant progressed according to schedule and at the end of FY2019 had an overall progress of 60 per cent. The project is expected to incrementally increase copper production capacity by approximately 185 ktpa, with first production expected in the first half of FY2021. For more information about SGO, refer to section 6.4.
In July 2018, Compañía Minera Cerro Colorado and its Supervisors and Staff Union signed a new collective agreement for 36 months, effective from 1 July 2018. In September 2018, Cerro Colorado and the Operators and Maintainers Union N°1 signed a new collective agreement for 36 months, effective from 1 September 2018. On December 2018, BHP terminated the sale agreement of Cerro Colorado to the private equity manager, EMR Capital, as the financing conditions were not met by the buyer. BHP will continue to operate Cerro Colorado.