* 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 Wednesday. 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.