April 24, 2017 / 7:54 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Anglo American reports 9 percent rise in output

* Cyclone Debbie could affect coal sales volumes in second quarter

* Overall copper guidance unchanged

* Shares up 1.2 pct (Adds detail, analyst comment, share price)

By Barbara Lewis and Sanjeeban Sarkar

April 24 (Reuters) - Anglo American reported a 9 percent rise in overall production for the first quarter of 2017 compared with 2016, but copper output fell 3 percent due to poorer grades and a temporary suspension at the El Soldado mine in Chile.

The miner also said Cyclone Debbie in Australia had led to coal production losses in the last week of March and affected the rail network, which is expected to affect sales volumes in the second quarter.

Anglo was among the miners hardest hit by a slump in commodity prices in 2015 and early 2016.

In the depths of the downturn, it said it was narrowing its focus to a group of core, high-value commodities, but after becoming the top performer in Britain's benchmark FTSE 100 index , boosted by a recovery in raw materials prices, it said it would no longer be a forced seller of assets.

Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said on Monday an increase in new production had helped to deliver "a strong operational performance" overall for the quarter ended March 31.

Copper output fell 3 percent due to poorer quality ore in Chile combined with the halting of mining operations at El Soldado from Feb. 18 following the regulator's decision to not approve a plan to update the mine.

For the full-year, however, Anglo said copper production guidance was unchanged at 570,000 to 600,000 tonnes.

New production of other minerals included higher diamond output after Canadian mine Gahcho Kue reached commercial production in March.

Anglo American has put higher value diamonds and platinum, along with copper, at the heart of its portfolio.

Overall rough diamond production rose by 8 percent while total rough diamond sales volumes increased in the first quarter to 14.1 million carats from 8.1 million carats the same time a year ago.

Analyst Hunter Hillcoat of Investec said the results were "rather dull" but largely in line with forecasts.

The share price rose 1.2 percent by 0742 GMT, slightly outperforming the sector.

In South Africa, Anglo's Anglo American Platinum said refined platinum production rose 121 percent to 576,900 ounces versus a year ago, when output was curtailed by a government-imposed safety stoppage at its Precious Metals Refinery.

The company had no fatalities in the first quarter of 2017 - an important milestone in South Africa's very deep platinum mines. In 2016, 27 miners died in the country's platinum operations.

Reporting by Barbara Lewis in London and Sanjeeban Sarkar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Johannesburg, editing by Louise Heavens

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