SANTIAGO, April 30 (Reuters) - World top copper producer Chile's output of the red metal jumped in March from February but fell 2.6 percent from a year earlier on disruptions in operations and smelting, the government said on Monday.
Chile, which provides about one-third of the world's copper, produced 423,064 tonnes of it in March, up 6.9 percent compared with February.
"Among the reasons that explain this drop (year on year) is the lower amount of refined products obtained due to equipment problems in smelters and general interruptions in the productive process," the INE statistics agency said in its report.
World top copper producer Codelco's smelter at the Chuquicamata mine, which produced 443,000 tonnes of copper last year, had to be put under unscheduled maintenance earlier this year.
Chile produced 1.234 million tonnes of copper in the first quarter of 2012, up 1.2 percent compared with the same period last year, the agency added.
Leading producer Chile is battling dwindling ore grades, extreme weather, energy woes and strike threats in its mineral-rich north, home to some of the world's biggest copper mines.
Output of molybdenum, a metal used to harden steel, tumbled 15.7 percent to 2,733 tonnes in March due to lower ore grades, compared with 3,241 tonnes during the same month of 2011.
Chile produced 379,474 tonnes of copper in February, up 6.5 percent from the same month a year earlier, the government said last month.