Jul 27, 2012 (Dow Jones) -- The Chilean unit of mining and natural resources group Anglo American PLC (AAUKY, AAL.LN) produced 329,500 metric tons of copper in the first half of the year, an increase of 14% from the same period last year, the company said Friday.
The increase in output was due to the expansion at Anglo American's Los Bronces mine coming on line last year.
Los Bronces is Anglo American's largest wholly owned mine and is at the center of a legal dispute with state copper company Codelco. It produced 183,000 tons of copper in the first half, up 80% from a year before.
This increase helped offset the steep drop at the Dona Ines de Collahuasi copper mine. Anglo American and diversified miner Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) each hold a 44% stake in Collahuasi, while the remaining 12% is held by a Japanese consortium headed by Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (MITSY, 8031.TO). Production from Anglo's stake in Collahuasi totaled 63,900 tons, down 38% from the same period last year.
Collahuasi, located in arid northern Chile, saw bad weather in January and February. In addition, its ore grade, or the amount of copper found in the mined mineral, has been lower and it was forced to momentarily halt operations due to fatal accidents and a failure at one of its mills.
Anglo American's Chagres smelter produced 78,100 tons of copper in the form of anodes and 242,700 tons of sulphuric acid after processing concentrates from its Los Bronces and El Soldado mines, increasing 22% and 4% year-on-year, respectively.
Molybdenum output, including the 44% stake in Collahuasi, fell to 940 tons, versus the 2,239 tons produced in the first half of 2011. Molybdenum, which in Chile is found in several copper deposits, is used to harden steel.
For 2012, Anglo American sees copper production increasing as the Los Bronces expansion ramps up to design capacity. Towards 2020, the mine is expected to produce 400,000 tons.
In addition, it aims to repair the faulty mill at Collahuasi by August which will allow production at that mine to recover in the second half, the company said in a statement.