Teck Resources Ltd (NYSE:TECK) Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Apr 24, 2018 • 11:00 am ET
Welcome to Teck Resources Q1 2018 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. This conference call is being recorded on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. I would now like to turn the conference call over to Fraser Phillips, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Strategic Analysis. Please go ahead sir.
Thanks very much, Brenda. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for Teck's first quarter 2018 results conference call. Before we begin, I'd like to draw your attention to the forward-looking information on Slide 2. This presentation contains forward-looking statements regarding our business. However, various risks and uncertainties may cause actual results to vary. Teck does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement.
With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Don Lindsay, our President and CEO.
Thank you, Fraser, and good morning everyone. I will begin on Slide 3, with some highlights from our first quarter followed by Ron Millos, our CFO, who will provide additional color on our financial results. We'll then conclude with a Q&A session, where Ron and I and various additional members of our senior management team will be happy to answer any questions. But before we get into the highlights of the quarter, I would like to note that very sadly, there was a tragic incident at our Fording River operation on April 9th, resulting in the death of an employee of a contract company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the employee's family and friends and colleagues, and a full investigation into this incident is underway to ensure we do everything we can in order to prevent a reoccurrence.
Turning now to our Q1 results, prices for our key commodities remained strong in Q1, resulting in another good quarter for us. Note that copper prices reached a four-year high in January at USD3.27 per pound, and zinc prices reached a 10-year high in February at USD1.64 per pound. Sales volumes for all of our principal products increased from a year ago, particularly copper sales, which reflected a higher-than-expected grades at Highland Valley. Overall, our operations performed well in Q1, and we're pleased that Fort Hills achieved first oil on January 27th and is ramping up to full capacity as expected.
In fact, the plant's startup has exceeded expectations with respect to both production volumes and product quality, and we also achieved first sales in Q1. We continue to return cash to shareholders, repurchasing CAD58 million of Class B shares to complete the remainder of our CAD230 million share buyback. We also paid our regular base quarterly dividend of CAD0.05 per share, which totaled CAD29 million. The Prefeasibility Study for NuevaUnion was completed in Q1 and we have included a summary of the results in our press release. I will come back to this shortly.
In April, we acquired an additional 13.5% indirect interest in the QB2 project, through the purchase of IMSA, our minority partner. This simplifies