Antofagasta Quarterly Output Falls on Lower Grades at Esperanza

Antofagasta Plc’s copper output fell 3.1 percent in the third quarter on lower grades of ore at its Esperanza mine. The company affirmed its full-year forecast.

Production slid to 174,200 metric tons from 179,800 tons a year earlier, it said today. The company, controlled by Chile’s Luksic family, reiterated the annual target of 700,000 tons.

Copper grades at Esperanza, which suffered delays last year that forced the company to cut its forecast, declined 23 percent to 0.54 percent in the latest quarter, the company said. Volumes of molybdenum, used to harden steel, fell a third to 2,000 tons.

Antofagasta dropped by 1.5 percent to 884.5 pence by 9:21 a.m. in London, extending its loss for the year to 33 percent.

Copper output in the nine months expanded to 538,300 tons from 515,800 tons, and gold rose by 8 percent to 230,600 ounces.

Net cash costs, including earnings from by-products such as molybdenum and gold, increased to 1.33 cents a pound in the nine months from 99 cents a year earlier, Antofagasta said.

“Overall, a slightly better-than-forecast third quarter, both in terms of production and costs,” Westhouse Securities Ltd. analyst Nick Hatch said in a note. “We remain positive on Antofagasta as a quality copper play with a healthy profit margin.”

Antofagasta on Aug. 27 said first-half net income fell 39 percent to $395 million as metal prices slid and costs rose.

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