May 30, 2012 / 10:58 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chile Escondida Q1 copper output up 2.1 pct yr/yr

* Escondida produced 240,215 tonnes of copper in Q1
    * Mine says copper cathode output rises

    SANTIAGO, May 30 (Reuters) - Output from the world's largest
copper mine, Chile's Escondida, rose 2.1 percent in the first
quarter compared with a year ago to 240,215 tonnes, pushed up by
a jump in its cathode production, it said in a statement on
    Escondida, which is majority owned by global miner BHP
Billiton , did not give a reason for the higher
output figure.   	
    "Last year Escondida produced fairly little, so this
(increase) is fairly expected," said Gustavo Lagos, a professor
at the Catholic University's Mining Center in Santiago. "But
it's marginal."	
    Escondida's copper output fell 24.6 percent in 2011 to
819,261 tonnes from a year earlier to its lowest level in nearly
a decade due to falling ore grades and a two-week strike.
    The mine's copper cathode production in the January to March
period increased 6.6 percent to 82,373 tonnes while its
concentrate output was broadly stable at 157,842 tonnes.   	
    Escondida said on Wednesday that first quarter profit for
the mine fell 15.4 percent to $871.4 million, hurt by lower
prices for the red metal, the mine said.	
    BHP and Rio Tinto in February approved plans for a
$4.5 billion expansion of Escondida that aims to boost its
output by 80 percent. 	
    The mine is seen producing more than 1.3 million tonnes of
copper a year by June 2015, the miners said.

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