UPDATE 2-Codelco output rises but lower copper price eats into profit

viernes 29 de agosto de 2014 12:38 GYT

* First-half copper output up 4 percent to 788,000 tonnes

* First-half pretax profit down 27 percent to $1.3 bln

* Company says may go to debt market in next 12 months (Adds CFO quotes on market and financing, cash costs, background)

SANTIAGO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Codelco, the world's No. 1 copper producer, on Friday reported a rise in its first-half production, largely due to the contribution of a new mine, but a slide in the market price of copper metal eroded profits.

The Chilean state-run company said it produced 788,000 tonnes of copper in the January to June period, a 4 percent rise from 2013.

Improved ore grades and volumes at century-old Chuquicamata boosted production 26,000 tonnes, while new mine Ministro Hales contributed 66,000 tonnes despite some start-up problems.

Production fell at some mines, notably Radomiro Tomic, which is looking to use new bioleaching technology to address falling volumes as ore grades diminish.

Despite the rise in production, pre-tax profit dropped 27 percent in the first half to $1.3 billion, as the average copper price in the period fell around 8 percent to $3.14 a pound, Codelco said.

Concerns about lower demand in key buyer China and geopolitical tensions have weighed on the global copper price this year.   Continuación...