SANTIAGO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Copper prices should remain around their current levels for most of 2015, though a possible small production surplus towards the end of next year could weigh on prices, said the chief executive of Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Minerals.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was trading 0.92 percent lower at $6,623.75 a tonne at 1247 GMT on Thursday. That compares to the record highs above $10,000 the industrial metal reached in early 2011.
“Next year (prices) should be similar to this year and perhaps towards the latter part of next year we might see a small production surplus that could eventually affect prices,” CEO Diego Hernandez told journalists on Thursday.
The London-listed miner, controlled by Chile’s Luksic family, is battling sluggish prices, falling ore grades and rising costs like others in the copper sector.
Hernandez said Antofagasta is on target to reach 700,000 tonnes of production this year.
Antofagasta is hoping to counter falling copper grades, an issue for the Chilean mining sector, with new projects such as Antucoya and Encuentro Oxide, the expansion of its large Pelambres mine and the construction of a second concentrator at Centinela. This would lift its output to 900,000 tonnes by 2018 and about 1 million tonnes by 2020.
“Antucoya is going well. It’s on time and on budget and should start commissioning in the second quarter of next year,” he said. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)