The company which runs the Highland Valley Copper mine said they are ahead of schedule on a $73 million ball mill project aimed at increasing production.

Teck Resources released first quarter financial statements on April 23 showing revenues, profit and production are all lower than this time last year at the mine, approximately 17 kilometres west of Logan Lake.

“Gross profit from our copper business unit was $170 million in the first quarter compared with $293 million a year ago,” reads the report. “Copper production in the first quarter decreased by five per cent from a year ago primarily due to lower mill throughput and ore grades at Carmen de Andacollo and lower ore grades at Highland Valley Copper.”

At HVC, copper production in the first quarter was 1,300 tonnes lower than a year ago, mainly due to lower ore grades.

However, Teck representatives say the lower grade was anticipated and it is expected to improve through the rest of 2019.

Production capacity at the mine is also expected to increase through the additional ball mill and the mining of deeper ores at HVC.

Startup of the mill is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2019, according to the report.