SANTIAGO, Aug 23, 2011 (Dow Jones) -- Chilean copper mine Escondida, controlled by global diversified miner BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP, BHP.AU), produced 452,408 metric tons of copper in the first half of 2011, a decrease of 14% from the same period last year.
The mine produced 151,407 tons of cathodes, which have a higher added value due to the industrial processes needed to fabricate them. It also produced 301,001 tons of copper concentrates in the first half, the company said in a brief statement.
In January-June 2010, Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, produced 139,811 tons of cathodes and 386,209 tons of concentrate.
Escondida recently experienced a 15-day illegal strike in July and August as workers sought improved labor conditions and bigger production bonuses.
Sales in the first two quarters surged 23% to $4.58 billion as a result of higher international copper prices, and net profit grew a similar 23% to $1.98 billion. During the first half, copper on the London Metal Exchange averaged $4.26 a pound, sharply higher than the $3.23 it averaged in the same period last year.
BHP has a 57.5% stake in the mine, while Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto PLC (RIO, RIO.LN) holds 30%. The remaining 12.5% is held by a Japanese consortium led by Mitsubishi Corp. (MSBHY, 8058.TO).