Antofagasta CEO Awad Resigns After Delays in Esperanza Mine

Antofagasta Plc (ANTO)’s Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Awad resigned, a week before the copper producer controlled by Chile’s Luksic family plans to post 2011 results, following delays in ramping up its Esperanza plant.

“Awad has advised the board of his resignation as chief executive officer of Antofagasta Minerals SA with immediate effect,” the company said in a statement today. Chairman Jean- Paul Luksic will take over on an interim basis, it said.

Antofagasta in June cut its 2011 output forecast to 620,000 metric tons to 640,000 tons, from the 715,000 tons it projected in February last year, after delays at Esperanza. The company produced 640,500 tons, it said Feb. 1. The company seeks to increase output to about 700,000 tons this year, it said.

The 2011 results, due March 13, will be “in line with market expectations,” the company said. “As a group, we will continue to pursue our current strategy of growth, supported by our strong financial position and low-cost and profitable operations,” Luksic said in the statement.

Antofagasta’s 2011 full-year net income will probably rise to $1.26 billion from $1.05 billion a year earlier, according to the average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The producer, seeking to diversify outside Chile by buying early stage projects, in November failed to get a mining license for a $3.4 billion Pakistan copper and gold venture with Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) Awad was hired in 2004, according to the statement.

Antofagasta fell 0.6 percent to 1,230 pence at the close in London, giving the company a market value of 12.1 billion pounds ($19 billion).

To contact the reporter on this story: Firat Kayakiran in London at fkayakiran@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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