Nov 25, 2011 SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)--Copper production at Chilean state mining company Codelco's wholly owned mines rose to 1.25 million metric tons in the first three quarters of 2011 from 1.21 million tons in the same period of 2010, Chief Executive Diego Hernandez said Friday.
Codelco's total January-September production, which includes output from its 49% stake in the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX)-controlled El Abra mine rose to 1.29 million tons from 1.26 million tons in the same period last year.
The increase in output is due to higher copper production at the Andina and Radomiro Tomic divisions, which helped offset a drop in Chuquicamata, Hernandez told reporters at a press conference.
With copper averaging $4.20 a pound in the first nine months of the year, earnings before taxes at the company formally known as Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile surged to $5.30 billion from $3.88 billion in the same period a year earlier, when copper averaged $3.25 a pound.
If Codelco earnings were reported using the same tax treatment as private companies, it would have posted a net profit of $3.93 billion compared with $3.09 billion in the first three quarters of 2010.
But the world's biggest copper miner didn't just benefit from higher copper prices; better prices for several byproducts such as molybdenum, silver, gold and sulphuric acid, also contributed to a stronger bottom line, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Keller told reporters.
The miner produced 16,400 tons of molybdenum--which is used to harden steel--293 tons of silver and 2.5 tons of gold. The two precious metals are contained in anodic mud which is the sludge left after copper cathodes are made.
Last year the company produced 1.7 million tons of copper and this year production will be "slightly" higher than that, Hernandez said.