Codelco 1st-Quarter Copper Output Rises 5.7% From Year Ago

Codelco, the world’s largest copper company, reported a 5.7 percent increase in first-quarter production as output from its Radomiro Tomic mine helped offset a drop at Chuquicamata in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Copper output climbed to 425,000 metric tons in the first three months of the year from 402,000 tons a year earlier, according to a statement posted in the state-owned company’s website. Excluding its share of production from its stake in the El Abra mine, output rose to 414,000 tons from 383,000 tons.

Chief Executive Officer Diego Hernandez plans to spend $17.5 billion over five years to revamp Codelco’s aging mines where production has fallen five times in six years. Copper rose to a three-week high in New York today on signs of stronger demand in China, where Codelco sells most of its copper.

“The market outlook in the medium- and long-term continue to be promising,” according to a separate company statement posted on the securities regulator’s website. Demand growth may remain above historical averages while global suppliers face a “challenging” environment to expand, it wrote.

Copper futures for July delivery climbed 7.5 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $4.186 a pound at 1:15 p.m. on the Comex in New York, after touching $4.1935, the highest since May 4.

Codelco’s copper sales rose to $3.58 billion in the first quarter from $2.8 billion a year ago, the company said. It sold 35 percent of its copper to China, versus 42 percent a year ago, according to a presentation delivered at the company’s Santiago headquarters.

Codelco boosted production at Radomiro Tomic to 122,000 tons from 88,000 tons, while output at the neighboring century-old Chuquicamata mine slumped to 100,000 tons from 117,000 tons.

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