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S&P 500   4,967.23
DOW   37,986.40
QQQ   414.65
North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store
Ukrainian and Western leaders laud US aid package while the Kremlin warns of 'further ruin'
Biden sees a $35 price cap for insulin as a pivotal campaign issue. It’s not that clear-cut
'Civil War’ continues box-office campaign at No. 1
Hawaii lawmakers take aim at vacation rentals after Lahaina wildfire amplifies Maui housing crisis
Conservative Brazilians laud Elon Musk at rally in support of ex-president Bolsonaro
Tens of thousands of Colombians protest against the leftist president's reform agenda
S&P 500   4,967.23
DOW   37,986.40
QQQ   414.65
North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store
Ukrainian and Western leaders laud US aid package while the Kremlin warns of 'further ruin'
Biden sees a $35 price cap for insulin as a pivotal campaign issue. It’s not that clear-cut
'Civil War’ continues box-office campaign at No. 1
Hawaii lawmakers take aim at vacation rentals after Lahaina wildfire amplifies Maui housing crisis
Conservative Brazilians laud Elon Musk at rally in support of ex-president Bolsonaro
Tens of thousands of Colombians protest against the leftist president's reform agenda
S&P 500   4,967.23
DOW   37,986.40
QQQ   414.65
North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store
Ukrainian and Western leaders laud US aid package while the Kremlin warns of 'further ruin'
Biden sees a $35 price cap for insulin as a pivotal campaign issue. It’s not that clear-cut
'Civil War’ continues box-office campaign at No. 1
Hawaii lawmakers take aim at vacation rentals after Lahaina wildfire amplifies Maui housing crisis
Conservative Brazilians laud Elon Musk at rally in support of ex-president Bolsonaro
Tens of thousands of Colombians protest against the leftist president's reform agenda

Freeport-McMoRan Q2 2022 Earnings Call Transcript


Listen to Conference Call

Participants

Corporate Executives

  • Richard Adkerson
    Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
  • Kathleen Quirk
    President
  • Cory Stevens
    President, Freeport-McMoRan Mining Services

Analysts

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. Please go ahead, ma'am. Thank you, and good morning. Welcome to the Freeport-McMoRan second quarter conference call. Earlier this morning, FCX reported second quarter 2022 operating and financial results and a copy of today's press release and slides are available on our website at fcx.com. Our 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 this call include forward-looking statements and actual results may differ materially. I'd like to refer everyone 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 today with me, Richard Adkerson, our Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer; Maree Robertson, our Chief Financial Officer; Mark. Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of Indonesia; Josh Olmsted, Chief Operating Officer for the Americas; Mike Kendrick, who runs our molybdenum business; Cory Stevens, who leads our centralized technical service, services, engineering and construction; Rick Coleman, who is leading a number of our projects, including the smelter project in Indonesia; and Steve Higgins, our Chief Administrative Officer. Richard is going to make some opening comments to start us off. And then I'll come back and cover the materials in the slide presentation. So now I'll turn the call over to Richard for his comments.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Thank you, Kathleen, and good morning to everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm going to open up with some brief remarks about where Freeport is as a company. The second quarter was truly a tale of 2 cities for Freeport. We had very strong operations and then we've had to deal with this sudden unexpected significant decline in copper prices. While our operations, we executed our plans, we met our production targets, we met our unit production cost target as well with [Indecipherable] that was really supported by the ongoing success we've had in Grasberg. And the 20-year effort to convert the open pit mine to the industry's largest underground operations, Grasberg is now returned as the second largest copper mine in the world, the largest single gold mine in the world. It's 38% of our consolidated copper sales at Freeport. Our second new quarter unit costs PT-FI were below zero. Our gold revenues fully funded our total operating costs and the success in this operation is a highlight in the careers of all of us associated with PT-FI.

Our operations in America performed well. We maintained our positive outlook as Kathleen will illustrate. I just could not be more pleased well with our global team in the way we operate in the second quarter. We executed this financial policy, we established early last year. At that time, we set that target of $3 billion to $4 billion and an allocation of available cash flows between dividends, share buybacks and investments. We ended the quarter with the comparative debt amount of $1 billion. There were $600 million of Indonesian debt to separately finance there. Our debt reduced to that level simply because we weren't able for timing reasons, market reasons to spend money on expansions in accordance with the allocations.

We've paid our base dividend and our supplemental dividend. We purchased FCX shares in the open markets. Since we began that program, we purchased 48 million shares. We retired $750 million of debt in the open market at a discount. Our Board has now approved an increase in our buyback program authorization to 5 billion shares. We have roughly 3 billion shares remaining. Our financial policy is solid and our execution is strong. But that's only one city, but it's an important one.

The other side of the coin is markets. It's just striking how quickly and dramatically market changed in the second quarter. Prior to this call, I went back and read and which comments going into the quarter and the optimism was widespread. Copper prices approach $5. Many were expecting it to go higher. We used for $4.50 in our outlook. And now we have prices just above $3.25.

Markets sentiment reversed so dramatically. I read with interest the recent Bank of America Investor Survey of institutional investors where they described it as a full panic mode. The lowest expectation in the history of the survey going back to 1995 by investors. The economic analysts are debating on how significant and the duration of the downturn.

At Freeport, we hope for the best, we prepare for the worst. Our management team is experienced and they successfully managed past downturns all of which have been followed by significant recoveries. This is not our first rodeo. We have our playbook dealt with this before, but this time importantly, we have a strong balance sheet. And that will enable us to manage whatever we face in this marketplace. Our strong financial -- we will work to protect our strong financial condition, protect our assets, our growth opportunities for the bright future that lies ahead for copper.

There is a disconnect in today's physical market and the current copper price. A world in producing and selling copper for us feels about the same they did when copper was it $4.50. Customers report strong business. Copper inventories are at historical lows. There has been to date no significant impact in physical demand. Today's market is tight. Our strategy of the -- in the world's foremost copper company is intact. And that's based on the long-term fundamentals of the demand and supply for copper.

But the reality of today's copper price, there is a squarely in the face. It's a major impact on our revenues and our cash flows. The outlook is uncertain. Analysts are calling in a range from a near-term major recession to a longer-term stagflation. Some see a less significant downturn with a near-term recovery. If that happens, watch out. We at Freeport do not know what's going to happen near term. As I said, we hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Whatever happens, the long-term outlook for copper is bright. FCX is well positioned to be a major beneficiary.

This -- the world is becoming increasingly electrified with the demand for copper growing as the world asked to reduce carbon emissions with electric vehicles and alternative power generations. As simply [Indecipherable] highly respected authority for many years in the energy business recently published a report, according to a doubling of copper demand. The cause of the energy transition at 2035 accompanied by huge deficits. I encourage you to read this report.

With the established need for the copper to support the world's economy, the future global growth, we are in a new era of copper demand with the energy transitions. Suppliers for new copper are challenged. There is no clear line of sight for mine development to meet future demand. The result is it has to be more scrap recovery, has to be conservation substitution, more mines and expansions, more mines to redevelop expansions, but all of these take years to execute as you can see from our company. The result will be higher copper prices. The current price for copper is unsustainable. Absent a global long-term economic collapse, that is simply enough.

Now Kathleen, I'll let you review the quarter and present the information we have in our slides.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Okay, great. Thank you, Richard, and I'll cover the presentation that's on our website and then we'll come back and take your questions.

Starting on Slide 3, we summarize the highlights of the second quarter. We achieved solid operating performance in the quarter and continued our momentum and executing our operating plans, growing our production year over year and managing costs in a challenging environment. Our sales volumes for copper was 17% higher than last year's second quarter and 5% above our recent guidance. We benefited from strong operating performance across the portfolio.

Gold sales were 56% above the year ago quarter and 18% above our April guidance reflecting the exceptional performance at Grasberg. Our consolidated average unit net cash costs for the quarter of $1.41 per pound were in line with our guidance, and notably Grasberg costs were a net credit of $0.02 per pound in the quarter, meeting -- meaning that the gold revenues more than offset all of our cash production cost at the site.

We're actively engaged in cost management and efficiencies across the portfolio to mitigate cross -- cost increases. We generated adjusted EBITDA of $2.3 billion in the quarter. This was net of a $355 million reduction associated with copper sales recorded in the first quarter provisionally priced at the end of March at $4.71 per pound which remains subject to final settlement. The decline in copper prices during the second quarter resulted in a negative adjustment for these provisionally priced sales.

Our adjusted net income totaled $854 million in the second quarter, $0.58 per share. That excluded net charges detailed on roman numeral Page 7 of our earnings release, total -- totaling $0.01 per share. Operating cash flows of $1.6 billion in the quarter exceeded our capital expenditures of roughly $900 million.

Capital spending in the quarter included $400 million of major projects, principally associated with the Grasberg underground and roughly $200 million to advance the construction of the Indonesian smelter.

We took advantage of weakness in credit markets during the quarter and opportunistically repurchased debt in the open market. To date, we have purchased $754 million of FCX's notes in open market transactions at a cost of $718 million including $582 million in principal amount in the second quarter. The current market situation provides a great opportunity for us to reduce absolute debt levels at attractive prices. We also continue to execute our share repurchase program. Since starting the program last November, we have purchased 48 million shares at a total cost of $1.8 billion and average approximating $38 per share.

Since the end of the first quarter, we purchased nearly 800 million in stock, including 110 million in July, which were executed at an average share price of $28 per share. Since reaching our net debt target in the middle of last year in the range of $3 billion to $4 billion, we have used approximately 50% of our free cash flow for shareholder returns. Today we announced that our Board increased our share purchase authorization by $2 billion to refresh availability on the program to the $3 billion range. The timing of our future purchases will be dependent on our cash flows and general market conditions. We'll will continue our priority of maintaining a strong balance sheet and use excess cash to return to shareholders.

As Richard discussed, the magnitude of the decline in copper in recent weeks was sudden and unexpected. We have the balance sheet, asset quality and experience to successfully manage a volatile and uncertain market environment. Our net debt at the end of June was $1.6 billion that included $600 million in net debt associated with the Indonesian smelter.

Consolidated debt was $11.1 billion and consolidated cash was $9.5 billion. We don't have requirements to raise capital in the current environment. We've been opportunistic in taking advantage of recent market weakness to repurchase our debt and equity securities. As we look forward, we will manage through the near-term effectively and are positive about our strategy centered on being foremost in copper. The strength of our assets and our team is focused on increasing value for all stakeholders.

Moving to Markets on Slide 4, we show a graph of year-to-date copper prices. The price for months ago hit a high of $4.87 per pound with market analysts predicting multi-year periods of price increases, based on fundamentals and rising demand required to support the energy transition, limited supplies and sizable deficits on the horizon.

You've all read about the macro factors which I have manifested over the last several weeks, triggering recessionary concerns. In addition, concerns about the impact of COVID shutdowns in China and a strong U.S dollar have weighed on copper which is viewed as a close proxy for sentiment on the health of the global economy. The reality is that this has been a financially driven anticipatory move in copper prices.

Physical markets remained healthy, as evidenced by the global exchange inventories illustrated on this chart, which remain at historically low levels. Our customers report solid orders and the industry continues to struggle to meet production targets. The current decline in price is below Wood McKenzie's estimate, $4.25 per pound, necessary to incentivize new supply under an accelerated energy transition and will also provide less cash flow to the industry to develop new supplies, making the projected deficits in copper more significant in the future.

The long-term secular demand trends for copper demand associated with electrification, decarbonization will be important demand drivers for copper. We see these trends being less economically sensitive than traditional uses of copper in the economy. We fully recognize the short-term uncertainties but had conviction about long-term fundamentals for the copper markets.

Richard mentioned the S&P Global report. Many of you have seen it, it was published last week prepared by analysts at S&P Global and led by Dan Juergen of well known energy industry expert, author and historian. The independent study, which is available on S&P Global's website forecast above trend copper demand. Through 2035 associated with electrification and the energy transition. The report projects long term structural deficits in copper and highlights copper's prominent role in the global aspirations of a net zero economy. It confirms the work of other reputable analysts in the future of copper and will serve as an educational tool for governments and other policy makers on the importance of future new copper supply development.

We recognize the short-term macro was a different picture. And as we move to Slide 6, Richard highlighted this summarizes our experience in managing challenging environments. For those of you who have followed our company and industry for a long time, you know that our team is proficient and successfully navigating challenging circumstances. This slide, on slide 6 summarizes our actions in prior periods, when we took decisive steps to adjust our operating plans, reduce costs, the first spending protect liquidity and preserve our asset values for improved market conditions.

Notably, we operate all of our mines and manage major capital and operating decisions centrally. Each one of these periods had its own unique challenges and our team proved its agility each time. We are prepared to respond to a weakening market environment, if necessary. We're a much stronger position than in past downturns with a significantly improved balance sheet and our successful expansion of the low-cost production at Grasberg. Our team is resilient, experienced, professional and value-driven in our approach. We can't predict the extent or time frame of the current situation. But as a responsible producer of scale and a strategy focused on copper with long-life reserves, the prospects are bright for portfolio to become more scarce and highly valued in the future.

On Slide 7, we provide some additional details on our operating activities in the quarter. In the U.S. the Lone Star mine, continues to perform above design capacity. We're expanding further to take us to 300 million pounds per annum by 2023 with an investment of approximately $250 million. As we accelerate the mining of oxide ores, this will expose a much larger sulfide opportunity at this site.

We're also advancing and we're very excited about our leach recovery initiatives at Morenci and across the Americas portfolio using data analytics and new technologies to enhance our leach production. This is a significant value enhancing opportunity for us and we continue to gain momentum, and expect to have success on this priority initiative. At our Bagdad mine and in Northwest Arizona, we are advancing plans for the Bagdad 2x project to double production. Studies are advancing and we're planning to advance early initiatives in parallel with the studies. We're focusing on developing this opportunity as a future growth option, but we'll be flexible on timing, subject to market conditions.

In South America, the teams have done exceptional work navigating the pandemic. We've had a great highlight and significant milestone for the Cerro Verde team during the quarter, setting the quarterly record for concentrating of averaging 427,000 tons of concentrating per day. At Cerro Verde, we also had some recent positive results on exploration, which have the potential to expand reserves and increase grades at this large-scale operation.

At El Abra, we have increased stacking rates and commencing leaching on a new leach pad. We continue to evaluate alternatives for the long-term at El Abra including options for new concentrator or an extension of existing operations subject to ongoing monitoring of the investment climate in Chile. At Grasberg, we sustained our large-scale metal production after reaching our target metal run rate in the fourth quarter of last year. The cost position at Grasberg is exceptional and the team there is doing outstanding work in managing and sustaining the largest and most profitable underground operation in the world.

During the quarter, we again achieved higher gold recoveries compared with forecasts, which contributed to a favorable variance for the quarter and we've now increased our outlook for full year gold production. At PT-FI, we are advancing mill projects to provide additional capacity in the second half of 2023. We're diversifying our power sources and advancing the long-term development for Kucing Liar. The construction of the new smelter in Indonesia is advancing. We reached an important construction milestone during the quarter, which will enable us to begin to reduce export duties later this year.

Turning to Slide 8, we provide a 3-year outlook for our volumes which are largely in line with our prior forecast. We've made small changes to our 2022 copper volumes totaling about 40 million pounds or about 1% and have increased our forecast for gold volumes in 2022 by about 5%. The execution of our long-term plans is on track. After delivering 19% increase in copper sales in 2021, we are projecting growth in volumes in 2022 and further growth in 2023. For 2022, we estimate 36% of our sales volumes will come from the U.S., 27% from South America, and 37% from Grasberg.

Moving to our cost outlook on Slide 9, as I mentioned, we're actively engaged in cost management and efficiency initiatives to mitigate the impacts of the challenging cost environment. We've updated our plans to incorporate recent commodity pricing, exchange rates, and our latest operating plans. We're now estimating unit net cash costs for the year approximating $1.50 per pound for 2022 that compares with our prior estimate of $1.44 per pound.

As you'll see from the reconciliation on slide 9, the majority of this increase reflects a decline in byproduct credits associated with the reduction in assumed gold and molybdenum prices for the balance of the year. Our projected $0.03 per pound increase in site production and delivery costs reflects the assumption of higher energy prices in our second half -- in the second half compared with our prior forecast, higher consumable costs together with the impact of a change in estimate for copper and the maturing leach pad at El Abra and this was partly offset by the favorable impact we have on labor costs internationally associated with weakening exchange rates compared to the U.S. dollar.

Historically copper prices have been correlated with the number of our input costs. Should recessionary pressures continue, historical correlations would indicate that we may begin to see a reversal of some of the cost experiences we've seen over the last 2 years.

Moving to slide 10. As one of the world's leading copper producers, our earnings and cash flows have significant leverage to the price of copper up and down. On slide 10, we show modeled results for our EBITDA and cash flow at various prices and we've shown a broad range of prices this quarter given the volatility ranging from $3 per pound of copper to $5 per pound of copper, which is close to where the prices were earlier in the year.

We've updated our gold and molybdenum prices to reflect current prices as Richard talked about the current price is not sustainable long-term given the cost structure of the industry and the need for new supply development in the future. We show modeled results on this slide using the average of 2023 and 2024 with current volume and cost estimates and holding gold flat at $1700 per ounce and molybdenum at $16 per pound.

Our annual EBITDA under these scenarios would range from over $6 billion per annum at $3 copper to $15 billion per year at $5 copper with operating cash flows ranging from $4.5 billion per year at $3 copper to over $11 billion per year at $5 copper. We show sensitivities on the right to various commodities and input costs. We can't predict prices and prepared to manage in a low price environment. Long-term fundamentals of our business indicate that low copper prices are not sustainable longer term providing increased cash flow as market conditions improve.

We show the consolidated capital expenditures on Slide 11. These are largely unchanged from our prior guidance. We've reduced the 2022 capital forecast by $100 million, which is a timing variance with 2023 and as you probably noted, we've been spending capital during 2022 at a slower pace than our original plans and in the current weak environment, we will review opportunities to defer spending as we've done in the past. We have flexibility with our plans and benefit from the fact that the major investments required for the Grasberg transition are largely behind us and will begin to decline as we go into 2023.

On slide 12, we show our future growth options embedded in our asset base. We have multiple options for brownfield, low-risk growth across our portfolio. Recall, we have 191 billion pounds of copper mineral resources in our portfolio in addition to our proved and probable reserves of 107 billion pounds of copper.

The leaching opportunity is a major value driver opportunity for us and is not included in our reserves and resources. Success in this area will enable us to create the equivalent of a new mine with extremely low capital intensity, low incremental operating costs and importantly a low carbon footprint. We're continuing to apply covers to our leach stockpiles as the retention of heat is proven to enhance recoveries. We're using data analytics and evaluating various additives that can further enhance recoveries. We're initially targeting the addition of 100 million to 200 million pounds of new copper per annum, within a relatively short time frame and believe we can build on this target with initial success.

We currently estimate 38 billion pounds of copper in our stockpiles which is already been mined but not in our reserves or production plans. A significant portion of this opportunities at our flagship Morenci mine, the largest mine in North America. A cross-functional team of Technical experts, metallurgists, mine planners, data scientists, geologists and business analysts are working together to make -- take full advantage of this exciting opportunity.

We review the ongoing oxide expansion at Lone Star, which is progressing on schedule. Longer term, we have the massive Lone Star sulfide opportunity of 50 billion pound copper resource in our established mining area in Eastern Arizona. This project is right in our wheelhouse and is a valuable development option for the future. In the medium term, we're planning to double the size of Bagdad. We have a very large reserve position at the site. We expect to complete the feasibility study for this project in the first half of next year and would be positioned to start construction activities as market conditions warrant.

The El Abra project has a resource approaching 30 billion pounds of copper and we've done a lot of work in identifying an operation that could produce over 700 million pounds of copper per year. In parallel with our evaluation of a major expansion, we're also considering investments in water, which would extend the life of the existing operation while maintaining the longer-term growth option. We continue to closely monitor developments in Chile and are deferring decisions for the time being.

In Indonesia, Kucing Liar project is a natural extension of our operations there and will allow us to continue large scale, low cost mining there for decades to come. The learnings and shared infrastructure from our successful development of Grasberg underground and the Deep MLZ really enhance the value of this project at Kucing Liar.

We benefit from having a large pipeline of options and have flexibility on the timing of development of our projects, particularly the extensive options we have for development of new supply in the U.S. where we own most of our land and fee. We believe the world is going to need our projects in the future. We've a long track record of success and qualifying and developing projects in an efficient and responsible manner enhanced by our industry-leading technical capabilities, established licenses to operate and our strong franchises in the areas of focus.

I want to turn to our balance sheet on slide 13, which our financial policy centered around a strong balance sheet, the actions we've taken in the past have placed us in exceptionally strong position particularly in the context of current market weakness. We don't have a need to raise new capitals for the foreseeable future. During the quarter, we took a number of steps, which further direst our balance sheet. We raised long-term financing for the smelter. We repaid our term loans at PT-FI and Cerro Verde and expanded our bank credit facilities for these subsidiaries and we opportunistically purchased over 750 in senior notes at attractive prices.

As we talked about our net debt including $11 billion in total debt and $9.5 billion of cash, net debt including the smelter net debt was $1 billion and below our targeted net debt of $3 billion to $4 billion providing cushion in a weak market environment. We have an attractive debt maturity profile as you'll see with easily manageable maturities. We can continue to be opportunistic on value opportunities to repurchase debt in the open market.

Slide 14 and closing, we show a scorecard of our shareholder returns, which have increased with our strong financial performance in recent quarters. We were active in the market in the second quarter and into July and have allocated approximately 50% of excess cash flows to shareholder returns since the third quarter of last year and that consisted of $1.8 billion in share repurchases and common stocks of over -- this common stock dividends totaling over $650 million during this period. Our Board authorized a $2 billion increase in our share purchase program to restore $3 billion in availability under the program. We will continue to prioritize our balance sheet as the cornerstone of our financial policy and that will allow us to operate well in varying market conditions and drive long-term returns for shareholders.

The discretionary purchases of our shares will be dependent on market conditions and cash flow generation in the future and our Board will continue to review our financial policy on a regular basis.

In summary, we are all focused on long-term value and executing our plans responsibly, safely and efficiency -- efficiently. Despite the recent market conditions, we're optimistic about the value of our assets, the strength of our global team, the fundamentals of the copper business and the future prospects for the markets we serve. We appreciate your attention and we look forward to your questions. Operator will now open the call for Q&A.

Questions and Answers

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Emily Chieng - with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.

Emily Chieng
Analyst at The Goldman Sachs Group

Good morning, Richard and Kathleen, and thank you for the update this morning. My first question is just around the 3Q copper shipment guidance. It looks like that's a little bit lower on a sequential basis than 2Q before it moves back up again. But could you perhaps point to what region may be driving that and is that timing of shipments, or perhaps something to do with the mine plan for the third quarter?

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Emily, it's primarily timing. We did sell more in the second quarter, we produced more, but we also had some timing variances in the second quarter where we sold more in the U.S. than we expected. In Indonesia, we also brought down our concentrate inventory. So it's mainly the timing we're at -- we're pretty much at run rates currently.

Emily Chieng
Analyst at The Goldman Sachs Group

Great, thank you.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Emily, we do have challenges with timing in Indonesia from time to time with the shallow water pond that we have there. Roughly, this can just delay loading and we of course record sales at the time of loading and so that's just something we've had to deal with over the years.

Emily Chieng
Analyst at The Goldman Sachs Group

Understood. That's very clear. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Chris LaFemina with Jefferies. Please go ahead.

Christopher LaFemina
Analyst at Jefferies Financial Group

Thanks, operator. Hi, Richard and Kathleen. Thank you for taking my question. I think you mentioned historically -- you mentioned your ability to kind of manage through the downturn. Deferring spending is one option. Historically Freeport in declining price environment has taken high cost capacity offline and I think we had a lot of cost inflation and mining the cost curve appears to be steepening pretty dramatically. I'm wondering how much further the price would have to fall before you would consider taking some capacity offline? That's my first question.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

I think, Chris, what we're really looking at is the physical markets. And right now, the physical markets are tight. As Richard talked about earlier, inventories are low. We certainly do not want to produce at a loss at any of our operations and we prefer to keep our reserves in the ground for better markets in the future But right now, the situation is so dynamic, it appears that physical markets continue to be robust. We're going to be watching it and it will be a combination of factors, including what input cost do as well, but we go through mine-by-mine and look at overall production costs, the capital costs, the overall cashflows, and we will make adjustments as needed and may be first adjustments needed to defer some capital projects, which do have an impact on copper prices -- on copper volumes longer term, but we're going to be looking at all these things and closely monitoring the conditions.

As I mentioned, we operate everything. So we control all these decisions and we can look very quickly across the portfolio and where things stand. And so we're prepared to to make adjustments. I don't want to give a projection as to what number, but we have reduced copper production in the past, particularly when demand has fallen.

Christopher LaFemina
Analyst at Jefferies Financial Group

And you talked about the market being physically tight, you can see that in the inventory data. It's a little bit perplexing there because the Chinese macro got so bad in the second quarter due to the lockdowns and presumably, Chinese demand materially weaken underlying demand, most of materially weaken there. There has been year-over-year and the second quarter, fairly substantial supply growth in the 2 biggest mines in the world, including your own had pretty big production growth year-over-year. A lot of companies are lowering their production guidance, but the second quarter, it looks like a quarter where you had an increase in supply and potentially a class in Chinese demand, yet inventories didn't really change. So I'm just trying to reconcile what might have happened. Do you think the Chinese may be buying copper for strategic reserves or is there something else going on in the market that would explain why it is staying relatively tight despite the biggest end market potentially stimulating and uploading in last quarter?

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Well, Chris. In preparing for this call, I have made a concerted effort with my contacts in the industry. We're very knowledgeable of the business on the ground in China. So to answer your direct question there, but that was perplexing out. I inquired broadly about where their inventories in China that were not visible. What was going on the Chinese commodity trading companies and the word came back you know that inventories were not building, it wasn't unusual trading. You're right. A couple of our mine and the other big mine increased, but there was also supply disruptions in Latin America during the quarter. And it appears that that in effect balanced some of the Chinese demand issues, but we don't see our customers in China, and we have a diverse customer base in Asia. We by design don't sell all of our copper into China, but in the Japan and in South Korea and Taiwan and we don't see any impact on demand. So I understand your question. And I just wanted to share with you what what I've been able to find from it, but we're just not seeing in our business.

Christopher LaFemina
Analyst at Jefferies Financial Group

Thank you.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Western world has been strong as well. Chris. So that's been different than in past years.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

All right. Even in Europe, our business there is strong and I know the uncertainty space in Europe with this energy situation. So I'm not diminishing any of that. As just our business is strong, as many customers out there avoiding Russian copper and so it is unusual as I talked about. It is a disconnect, serious disconnect right now between the physical market marketplace that we're seeing and what's going on with copper prices.

Christopher LaFemina
Analyst at Jefferies Financial Group

All right. Thank you for that.

Operator

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

David Gagliano
Analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

Thanks for taking my questions. Chris, as I said, the one I was really trying to -- I wanted to ask about is the cadence and if you look back historically, you know '08-'09, I believe if memory serves me correctly, copper prices went to like a bulk festive when Freeport acted and then in 2015, 2016, again off top my head, I think copper prices were running over @2 to $2.50 range. So given cost pressures that we're seeing everywhere, is it reasonable a sort of a $2.50 to $3 per pound range a reasonable zone to start thinking about when we'll see more action at existing assets?

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Well in response to your question, the earlier when we had about that. I think everyone understands that we at Freeport have a broad range of operations with different cost structures. I mean that was really the whole basis for putting together Grasberg with its outside assets. It allows us to manage those assets more efficiently. When you've got an asset like Grasberg to support, when times get tough historically, what we've done is, they will use Grasberg's with all of our corporate G&A and our debt financing costs and then we challenge each one of our mines to operate as a minimum cash flow breakeven. And we review this mine-by-mine in every mine, makes our decisions to support achieving that objective. But then within the larger mines now this use Morenci as an example, the largest mine in North America. There are layers of operations within Morenci that have different cost levels. So it's not just a question of focusing on individual mines, but what goes on in layers within the existing mines and we're able to take steps when necessary to adjust operations to reflect the current economics. It's a balancing act because decisions you make to do that have consequence it going for years in the future. But we manage that couple of times now. We manage all of these operations or sales and we run our business in the Americas essentially as a single business unit, So we all get together, we find out what's working, what's not, what can be done, what is -- and we balance the longer-term consequences with the need to meet current realities and it is -- as I said, we have the same basic team we've had that we've done this before. So we have a game plan for us doing it. Now our operators are ahead of us and in occasions, everybody knows what to do, everybody's Is pitching in and acting in the team to deal with our corporate objectives. So it's not an easy question to say is there a price where this happens with this mine because this is an interactive process that cuts across all of our mines in the Americas versus in Indonesia, we're going to produce as aggressively as we can safely and consistent with our long-term plans. And so great now to be ramped up to the extent we are, still got a couple of steps to do, but just 2 years ago, it was really scary when we were having volumes down there and the world is facing COVID and we're in so much better position now.

David Gagliano
Analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

That's a positive for... Sorry.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Add David, you raised this in your comments and we look at a lot of the publications that show where cost support is for copper. Those estimates are dated. There has been a lot of -- there have been a lot of changes in input costs that the historical cost support for copper has been increased significantly, so $3.25 copper is not the same as it was 2 years ago and so that's a factor as well, but reading tea leaves about how long this will last where we can move quickly. This has happened suddenly and we are starting the process to look at what we can do, particularly on the capital spend. That's the quickest way to increase cash flow.

David Gagliano
Analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

Yeah. That's helpful. Thank you. And then just a quick follow up, obviously the authorization increase the buyback to from $3 billion to $5 billion at a time when copper is dropping. If copper kind of holds where it is, we don't see a lot of free cash flow, which by the way is no different from a company that reported last night that also raise their buyback. My question is just really can you just speak to the thought process in the approach to the buyback moving forward considering everything else that's going on in the market right now? Is there any -- and also is there any kind of duration to the $5 billion buyback timeline wise?

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

So what we try to do urging of a number of our shareholders. Last year was established the financial policy so that people knew what direction we were going in and so we worked on it for months and finally came up with the policy that was announced about. Now we were allocating available cash flows, what was our debt targets, how we allocating cash flows, doing shareholder returns and investments. There's always a challenge in the investment side of it, because it takes so long to do it. So anyway, that's just part of the function, but we felt that and we discussed this with our Board, we felt that it was best to give the marketplace a direction since we executed so much of our existing authorization that we would have the availability to act for share buybacks, when it was warranted by the marketplace and I want to be careful to say this because I'm not predicting anything. I mean clearly my long career has taught me not to be confident in myself or others in predicting these short term movements, but David, there is a scenario here with the market being so tight. And if things turn out not to be a star is most expect now. There could be a dramatic recovery in copper prices and that would translate to recovery in Freeport share price and we want people to understand what would be prepared to do if the circumstances change dramatically where they are now for foremost to predict. We still run the business with the primary goal of protecting our assets and protecting our future because we believe the future -- not only we believe, we're confident the future of this company is so bright.

Past actions about our about the company, but that in payroll at times. We're not going to do that this time. We're going to have discipline about it. But we want the market to know that we have this authorization available to us -- for us to execute when it makes sense.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Yeah, I think another factor out there is, as you look at the copper price needed to support new mine development and compare that to where our shares trading and what's implied in our shares, it's attractive versus new supply development and on the flip side, we are looking at the -- staring the situation in the phase where new supply development is required. So there are some bunch of disconnects in the market right now. And we wanted to signal positive, we're going to use excess cash flows to buy stock back. We've -- the lower copper prices, gives us less cash flows to use, but we're going to continue to look at our plans and see how we might modify that with this disconnect in where our share price is trading and what's needed long term to develop new supplies.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

May be a strike because most management say this, but our management and our Board truly believe that the fundamental value Freeport is substantially higher and of course starts trading now.

David Gagliano
Analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

Okay.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Lawson Winder with Bank of America Securities. Hello, Richard and Kathleen.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Good morning.

Lawson Winder
Analyst at Bank of America Securities

Good morning.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Good morning.

Lawson Winder
Analyst at Bank of America Securities

Thank you very much for the update. Again today, it is very nice to hear from you. As always, I hope you both are well. I just wanted to kind of dig down on your comments regarding the increase in the cash cost guidance. Kathleen, you mentioned it was a majority of the forces driving that were actually just a reduction in the byproduct price assumption, I was getting to that though I was getting to a very small majority, so almost close to 50:50. Would you happen to have a specific number in terms of how that broke down between inflation and the change in the price assumption? And then maybe if you could just speak to some of the key, I guess unexpected inflation area that items that you saw in the quarter? Thank you.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Sure. Yeah, sure. On Slide 9, we show a roll forward and you can see there where we've gone from 144 to 150 in byproduct credit because we are using lower gold prices and moly what we use in our prior forecast is down by $0.05. So we had a $0.06 increase and $0.05 of that is from reduced byproduct credits. The site production -- the topline number of the site production of delivery being up $0.03. The major factors there that impact or impacting our cost guidance is energy we used just for reference. In our last forecast, we used $3.50 per gallon for diesel prices just for one reference in our outlook, which was the price -- the round the price at the time, the price in the fourth quarter and second quarter ended up being above $4 per gallon and that's declined somewhat to $3.70. So, we're using current or at least prices as of last week for oil prices, for diesel prices roughly $3.70 a pound or gallon in our outlook.

Coal prices are also up from our prior forecast. Purchase power costs are up slightly. We had some offsets in currencies. The stronger dollar results in lower operating costs in our international locations and so we've reflected that. We've had some contractual consumable price increases which are rolling in, which we've brought into the forecast. We had also a -- and this is more of an accounting deal, but we also had as we are transitioning El Abra from former leach pad to a new leach pad. We had some changes in estimates, in our estimates of what copper is remaining in that leach pad and so what that does is basically if we reduce the amount of copper available in leach pad and increases our cost for the remaining pounds. So that is not a cash item, it's essentially we've already spent the cash, but it will roll through our unit net cash costs and that was a factor as well. So -- but the headlines energy materials and supplies, this deal at El Abra, which is more noise, offset by a stronger dollar and profit-sharing and other costs that are driven by copper prices.

So, net of all that, we were $0.03 on-site production and delivery, and our export duties and royalties went down by $0.02. So the biggest factor you can look at this and say it's byproduct credits, which we were using $1950 for gold in the prior forecast and now we're using $1700, $19 for Moly in the prior forecast, which is what it was and that prices declined to $16.

Lawson Winder
Analyst at Bank of America Securities

Yeah. Thank you.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

And growing volumes in Indonesia. I mean with that cost structure, when it used to be greater proportion of consolidated numbers, that's the huge benefit.

Lawson Winder
Analyst at Bank of America Securities

Maybe as a follow-up, it's remarkable that you did not mention labor among all of that. Are you just not seeing signs of any meaningful labor inflation and I guess you're obviously confident that you don't expect to see any going forward?

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

We had already updated in our second quarter -- in the second quarter and our first quarter results In April, we had already updated our labor costs for inflation and contract labor that we're using. Our labor costs actually in this forecast a little lower because of this currency factor that I mentioned and then that doesn't affect our U.S. operations, but when you look at South America and where the Peruvian and Chilean currencies have moved relative to the dollar, that helps because our costs in those countries for labor are principally denominated in the local currency.

Lawson Winder
Analyst at Bank of America Securities

Thank you very much. Let me pass it out. Well, thank you. I only get a shout out to our supply chain team that's just done remarkable job in working with our suppliers in a difficult environment not only from a cost standpoint, but from a delivery standpoint and they have done a great job in working directly with hand in hand with operations to do what we can to offset these challenges that are broadly across all businesses.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Carlos De Alba from Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Carlos De Alba
Analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Yeah, good morning, Richard and Kathleen. Thank you very much. A couple of questions if I may. First one, it seems that the leaching technology could be a very attractive return on investment for you. So I wonder if you can give us maybe a little bit more color as to what is the current status there, what are some of the work that is still pending to do and if you have any sense of a potential timing for that investment to materialize? And then the other is, I mean clearly a lot of volatility as you mentioned and copper prices have suffered. But since you are quite constructive on the market, this might be an opportunity. So this is maybe a sensitive topic, but what is the rationale of keeping settled as a publicly traded company. I mean, wouldn't potentially be that also a good investment for Freeport shareholders?

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Carlos, regarding the first question related to your comments on leaching, it is our best project in the portfolio and is something that's a catalyst for us to really add value to our business. As you mentioned, low capital intensity, very low operating costs and particularly in this current environment, we are highly motivated, we've got teams who were running it like a project, we've got teams highly focused on this. It's our number one priority. It's got an element of research and development associated with it. So it's not just execution, it's got some science associated with it, but we are advancing our understanding of the science. We -- our company and its predecessors have been really leaders in this area and we've got a team of people who have a lot of experience in the science of this as well as some new approaches that are going to allow us to be successful here. Cory Stevens is on the line, who is leading this effort with Josh and the whole Americas team and Cory, I don't know if you want to make any comments in addition to what we said earlier, but Cory's phone rings quite a bit, because this is -- we do see this as being a real value opportunity for us to create value for our business and shareholders. So Cory, is anything you want to add that wasn't covered?

Cory Stevens
President, Freeport-McMoRan Mining Services at Freeport-McMoRan

No. Thanks, Kathleen. Yeah so leaching really does offer a number of compelling advantages on a number of fronts. The analytics capabilities is really unlocking more granular look at all the different aspects that we see in terms of recovery and it's enabling us to decouple static recipes that we had in the past to more dynamic recipes that maximize value as we go forward, but that's just one bucket and it's very organic where at Morenci is a lot of -- a center of our attention right now. We're executing to the moderate volumes that we've put into this year's forecast, building confidence into a sustainable what that looks like going forward and then have a number of activities going to add even more with a whole -- with a very large backlog of the number of alternatives that we're pursuing.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Thanks, Corey. So it's data analytics, additives, which we're exploring as well as heat, which we're applying covers across all of our stockpiles and we're well on our way to doing that and as we retain heat in the stockpile, the data shows that recoveries are greater. So it's a multifaceted approach to it. We're focused initially at Morenci. Chino is the second largest one in the U.S. and we're moving with data analytics there, we're trying out some additives at Sierrita. We've got some third party activity going on at our Bagdad mine, in Arizona. So we're trying a bunch of alternatives to enhance our understanding and we're gaining confidence that we'll be able to have some. We set this target of 100 million to 200 million pounds over a 12 to 18-month timeframe. And we are increasing our ability to -- our confidence in our ability to get to that. Once we get to that, that will open up some iterations that will allow us to expand it from there. But we've got to get the first success and we've had some early successes. It's just we've got to get to scale on it. So stay tuned.

Your second question on Cerro Verde...

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Kathleen, let me just add. The real focus is what Kathleen and Cory talked about is taking advantage of our leach -- our existing leach operations but with success, the future beyond that is really exciting about what we might do in terms of mining sulfide ores and processing them with this technology or looking at historically stacks, it is really excited, our whole team is really pumped up about it. Very good to see our project is called leach to the last drop.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

And just to circle back on Cerro Verde, we monitor the share price there, the public share price there. The public float is a historical carry forward that has been in place for a very long time. What we do monitor the trading conditions, opportunities if they arise and being able to repurchase. It's a different scenario then, and then in the U.S. where we can have active share purchase programs, but we are in tune with the market there and with certain of the investors and we'll look at that on an opportunistic basis as we compare uses of cash flow with other priorities at the the corporate level.

Carlos De Alba
Analyst at Morgan Stanley.

All right, thank you very much, I appreciate the color.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Michael Dudas with VRP, please go ahead.

Michael Dudas
Analyst at Vertical Research Partners

Yes, good morning everybody.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Hey, Michael.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Good morning, Michael.

Michael Dudas
Analyst at Vertical Research Partners

Yeah, hi. So, Richard. We've had this dislocation over the last 6, 7 weeks, which is perplexed a lot of folks and on top of the S&P report the you're going to put the team that you cited that is published a couple of weeks ago. Historically, each types of corrections or uncertainty in the market, will it lead to exponential delays in decision making and getting some of the supply to the marketplace? Is there going to be just -- or is this like well, we know the longer term covers to be great. So we're going to go through with these discussions. Obviously, you're looking at one very measured way. But historically in the industry, we're going to see further pressure on inventories and deficits because this type of nervousness could lead to further delays in the need investment for the process?

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Yeah, unquestionably, I mean you just think about the the impact on corporate strategy. The amount of financing that's available for smaller projects. All -- this is just another element of the series of barriers to supply development that the industry had already faced and unquestionably, I mean it was pointed out earlier in the discussion, then for a company like ours is we've got really this great project in Chile, has been delayed by the politics, political situation there and uncertainties about taxation, but when you balance that out with the company like ours and potentially being able to buy your chart stock back so cheaply. That's going to have an impact.

The investment in this industry is so long-term, even for a project a straightforward is doubling our concentrator at Bagdad. That's a multi-year effort to go through the permitting the planning process, procurement process. So it's a long-term nature of this business in this and heads spinning, move in prices like this is going to have an impact on those investment decisions. I don't know of any company that's just going to close your eyes and say that the market is so good in the future, we're just going to ignore this. You can't ignore it, I mean it's been such a dramatic decline in their steel such uncertainties. So what's going to happen. That all of that is going to delay production investments and there is just such a limited number of investments available out there, anyway is just building towards this coming huge deficit in the copper markets.

Michael Dudas
Analyst at Vertical Research Partners

Thank you, Richard.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of Timna Tanners with Wolfe Research. Please go ahead.

Timna Tanners
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Hi, thank you. I guess I'm just trying to kind of square that what we've been discussing in terms of Freeport Slide 12. In terms of all those projects, what does it take that you need to see to from the Chilean politics to get more confident in El Abra and what does it take in terms of copper prices just generally to proceed, are many of these still very attractive at recent prices? Thanks very much.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

So, Tim, thanks for your question. You know, I'm looking at our situation. There's a lot of balancing of competing economics for these projects that come into play, the uncertainty that our number of where we have a 15% -- 51% interest and we operated, Codelco's, our partner just means that is a burden on that project, whereas investments in the U.S. we're, Kathleen mentioned we own so fair to all of our land and sea. So there's no royalties where we have favorable income tax situation that's partially due to the tax legislation that's in place now and partially due to a net operating loss carry-forward we have from the oil and gas investment and all of the issues around community support and what you have to -- which you have to provide in international operations affects that balance that we have and switching gear is different because it's just the clear-cut fit into our long-term plan for managing the available ore in Grasberg. And by the way, I might mention in, you had your report today a question about extending the '40-'41 deadline there. We are in early discussions, I think we have the pathway forward, but we have to proceed with that. It's something that would benefit all stakeholders and also open that whole area for further exploration, which has been limited because of the 2041 deadline under our existing operating rates. So it's not an easy question to say, but it's a balancing off on all these things and and right now, the leach focus is not being -- it's going to be affected by economics timing of Bagdad, may be the Lone Star project, the near-term expansions are going well and they have some more opportunities there so far in longer term and El Abra is one that's really challenge. Beyond that, we have further opportunities in the U.S., Morenci and at our other mines.

What I really like about our company is we have this huge pipeline of projects. In the near-term, it will take time other than leaching which will come quicker, but beyond that we have such great resources that are available to us beyond reserves and over time, those will come into reserves and so this company is sustainable for a very long period of time without having to do anything else, without having to do anything else, but the decisions about timing and going to commit and so forth. A lot of moving parts in that got even -- has just gotten more complicated by seeing this drop in copper prices and not knowing what's going to happen in the next 2 to 3 years globally. So it had an impact on us and will have an impact on other companies.

Timna Tanners
Analyst at Wolfe Research

Thanks for that context. Appreciate it.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Abhi Agarwal with Deutsche Bank. Please go ahead.

Abhinandan Agarwal
Analyst at Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft

Thank you, good morning Richard and Kathleen. I just had a question on inflation. So in terms of inflation, where do you see the biggest upside risk into the year end and 2023 and you did talk about using spot gasoline prices and including labor in your forecast. But does the Q3 end of 2022 guide reflect the spot consumable prices, you are seeing? That's the first question. Yeah.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

The first -- answer is yes to that. We're using spot prices for our energy inputs.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Yeah. And that's just our philosophy and planning overall. We don't like -- we develop and now looking at plan based on current prices. And then we look at a number of different scenarios for what might happen if that varies, but we don't into any kind of economic analysis, our sales were coming up predictions on the future and not a long ago that we did win this game and so, we just use current prices and then look at scenarios. I must say that for those of you who follow the company a long time, you've heard me say about the correlation between our input costs and copper prices, that's been there and that's one of the rationales we've always used for not hedging. This current market has disrupted some of those longstanding traditional relationships, energy is the most significant one and that's changing every day. You see that is changing. So we're just having to approach this with prudence with an overall goal protecting this great set of assets we have and protecting the future that I think is going to be so great for our company. So we are going into that mode that followed before a really aggressively managing our business as the world around us changes.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

And to your question about where we see the most risk or opportunity either way, I'd say energy is the one that's the most uncertain as Richard talked about the correlation, what we're spending on energy. If we did historical correlations going back over a long period of time, our energy costs correlated to $3.25 copper price would be 40% lower or greater. And so -- but yet people are talking about potentially energy prices spiking again because of what's going on in the world. But if we really do get -- this recession really comes through, maybe it's a scenario where historical correlation start to fold in more than they are today, but our current plans are not based on historical correlations. They based on on the current market conditions.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

But -- and this is obviously already the biggest risk to our business right now. If the future demand going to drop off a cliff because of the global recession and that's what the market pricing that in large part right now because that's what the expectation was. I mean I looked at Bank of America surveys, they did, 80% of the people were projecting bad times, but we haven't had that yet. But that's the risk to our business. It's the dire expectations about recession to occur, demand will fall off. We can adjust to it, we're not go to put our company at risk. And that's why we're going to be there prudent about the way we manage capital, manage operations, manage our financial policy. I'm such a big believer in copper, I have this urge to be a lot more for the year about it. History has taught me we need to be really prudent to protect ourselves in case things happen that might put us at risk, and we're not going to do that. At least I am not going to do it.

Operator

Your next question will come from the line of John Tumazos with John Tumazos Very Independent Research LLC. Please go ahead.

John Tumazos
Analyst at John Tumazos Very Independent Research

Thank you very much.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Hey, John.

John Tumazos
Analyst at John Tumazos Very Independent Research

We are in such a strong position at Freeport and given the 2 big capital projects, the smelter and Kucing Liar basically non-discretionary. We really don't need to make too many changes, layoff theologists, playing capex around a lot and that it's less risk a double mistake and making all these cuts and then the market recovering panics, start and stop so fast, it's so hard to even manage, Do you think it's very likely we're steady state at Freeport?

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Well, unless the -- you mentioned people, we made substantial cuts in personnel just over 2 years ago with the COVID issue. We did -- we always treat people fairly. It was mostly between incentivize retirements or incentivized terminations and so forth and we are very effective with doing that. By the way, we have catered over some really efficient benefits in our G&A costs and what we learned during that period of time that not need to travel as much and working efficiently with our people. I encourage all of you go back and look at the history of Freeport's G&A and just see what progress we've made with it. John, we're actively looking to protect our people. I mean we're not talking about cutting back technical people at all because of this opportunity with leaching, with data analytics, which is used in leaching within the rest of our business. My experience is so when you find good technical people, even they will create value for us. So steady state, maybe that's one way of saying it, now that it was Grasberg being where it is with this ramp up, we're still working on a mill enhancement there, power issues, we're dealing with our power plant there and we have some other investments made, but we are out run rate and clearly the expansions are being affected by these copper price. So yeah, we were just focused on staying in a strong financial position, keeping all of our options open and being prepared to act when time makes sense.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

We raised the capital we need for the smelter. That's an important part of our agreement with the Indonesian government and we raised the capital we need both in the bond and the bank markets earlier this year before things got deteriorated. And so we're in good shape. That's an execution project. The Kucing Liar, it's complicated execution project, but it's an execution project. The Kucing Liar project is investments over a long period of time. We can have some pluses and minuses as we look out in the plan to tweak it, but it's a long-term investment. The places where we do have opportunities to look at is in the short term, some of the funding that we were planning in the Americas for various projects to build capacity, to build capacity assurance, to sustain higher mining rates, so that we could keep our production levels high. Those kinds of things as we've done in the past, we can look at if we need. We will look at if we need to essentially cut spending and reductions in mining rates help current cash flow, it makes it harder in the future to get the flywheel going again as we've just now doing with the cutbacks we did in 2020. But as Richard said, it's something that our team has experience with. We do it in a disciplined way. I think the important thing for the market to understand is that as we do these kinds of things, they don't -- the switch doesn't get turned on quickly. So they have lasting effects -- not -- you don't lose value. It's not lost, but it's deferred for potential and extend the period of time. So we take all that into account, when we make these decisions on modifying operating plans.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

And the timing of that PT-FI, $3 billion financing was very fortuitous. Now, I'm just looking at this morning in what we issue with and what today's interest rates are for those bonds that are trading and it was great that Kathleen and her team got it done, when they got it done.

Operator

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

Jatinder Goel
Analyst at Exane BNP Paribas

Thank you, operator. Good morning and good afternoon. Just a question on inflation, but from a different perspective. Number of other companies in the sector are highlighting capex inflation being higher than opex inflation. Interestingly and encouragingly, your capex guidance is almost unchanged for this year and next year barring some 100 million shift. What's driving that? Are you seeing any capex inflation or is there any deferral of activity keeping that absolute $3.1 billion average capex guide unchanged, but you said the cost of some lower activity level.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Yeah, I think it's a function of where we are in these projects. In Indonesia, large portion of our capital budget was related to the underground development and so we were well advanced in this project. The last part of it really is this increase in our SAG, milling circuit, which is coming on [Indecipherable]. So, but if we are starting projects today or in the last 6 months. I think that's a fair assumption and that also goes into the calculus of is this the environment that you want to undertake major new projects in because not only do you have the costs up, but the availability of labor to someone's question earlier, the risks are higher. And so the current copper price doesn't appropriately reflect what is required to get new projects developed and that's the thing, Richard was talking about earlier where we've got a big disconnect, but our capital projects that we're doing today have been in progress for a long time. So -- and we've got a core amount of sustaining cash -- sustaining projects and we do have some higher equipment and parts and those kinds of things, some of the parts have affected opex, but we're not given where we are in our capital cycle, we don't have the inflation that someone brand new starting a new project would have today.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Yes, it's a nature of what we spend money on in, like Kathleen said, where we are in the cycle and supply chain issues are still real too and that would be a very dawning thing to think about as you are undertaking $6 billion to $7 billion in new projects in this industry. All, I think coming back -- just keep coming back that the supply chain. I mean the supply barriers to develop copper to meet this demand were really significant. You just -- you think about with a higher copper prices now for 20 years. And just look at what the industry has tried and developed and what's been developed and now you've got these new things that are coming in, you can't wipe away community environmental concerns just because of war on these copper. You have all these social issues that are competing for, populations in Latin America and problems, in the US benefit because we have because we have greenfield expansions. But you see the problems and trying to build brownfield expansions. You see the problems and trying to build greenfield expansion here in the U.S. They are just downing. I've just never seen anything like and it is just so clear to me after looking at commodities businesses, actual resource business now for all these decades about where the copper business is and what the future lies ahead for us. I just am so excited about what our companies -- what our company will benefit from assets people experience, how we do things. So it's going to be a great future.

Jatinder Goel
Analyst at Exane BNP Paribas

Excellent. Thank you. Just a quick follow-up on the smelting capex. The only change has been in the precious metals refinery side. Is all of the remaining capex on existing smelter expansion, plus the new Greenfield smelter, all locked in and there is no risk of escalation there just to be sure?

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

No, it's not.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

They are not all.

Kathleen Quirk
President at Freeport-McMoRan

Yeah. We agreed with the EPC contractor to a target price and we both share some risk in that. And we've got some contingencies, a good portion. Also, we think about the labor costs, local labor costs and where the dollar is. So that will help us if things stay with the way they are, but it's not a fixed price contract, it's got some risk sharing between the parties.

Jatinder Goel
Analyst at Exane BNP Paribas

Understood. Thank you so much, Richard and Kathleen. All the best.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Thank you very much.

Operator

I will now turn the call back over to management for any closing remarks.

Richard Adkerson
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Freeport-McMoRan

Let me just say you all know what's the basis for our company strategy and so forth. Is there any view and I'm asking this question broadly within the industry with normal context with their view on this call and follow our Company so closely. If you have a different view about the fundamental outlook for the business, Just call me directly. I will be variance in hearing it. One think the reality is that I certainly recognize is that even with institutional investors, their views of the -- of their investments are much more short run than what Freeport's view is, how we have to invest for the future this copper business, but I'm really interested in hearing contrary views if any of you would like to share them with me.

And with that, we thank you all to this setting and we look forward to reporting next quarter and seeing how this world unfolds. It's going to bevery interesting. thank you all.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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