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Antofagasta copper output rises as Centinela mine shines

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By Reuters
Antofagasta copper output rises as Centinela mine shines
Group CEO of Antofagasta Minerals, Ivan Arriagada speaks during the CRU's World Copper Conference in Santiago, Chile April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido   -   Copyright  RODRIGO GARRIDO(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Chile-focused copper miner Antofagasta Plc reported a 22.6 percent jump in first-quarter copper production, bolstered by better grades and output mainly at its Centinela mine, while keeping its full-year output forecast unchanged.

The FTSE 100 company, majority-owned by Chile’s Luksic family, said on Wednesday production rose to 188,600 tonnes in the first quarter of 2019 from 153,800 tonnes reported a year earlier.

Total copper production at Centinela was 68,800 tonnes, 45.5 percent higher than the same quarter in 2018.

The company, however, said scheduled maintenance at its Los Pelambres and Centinela mines, combined with lower grades led to production being 14.3 percent lower than the previous quarter.

The tit-for-tat trade dispute between the U.S. and China pushed benchmark copper prices down 17 percent last year, stoked by fears over demand from China – the world’s top metals consumer.

Antofagasta began construction of a major infrastructure project at Los Pelambres in April, which the company said would allow it to boost production by 15 percent.

“We are on-track for another record-setting year with full year production expected to increase by up to 9 percent to 750,000-790,000 tonnes,” Chief Executive Officer Iván Arriagada said in a statement.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)