SANTIAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - Codelco, the world's biggest copper producer, reported a 3.6 percent rise in output in 2015 but a fall in the price of the metal led it to post a historic earnings loss.
The Chilean state-run company said in results published Thursday that it produced 1.73 million tonnes of copper last year from its wholly owned mines. Declining ore grades at its older sites were counterbalanced by a boost from the new Ministro Hales mine.
Mining companies globally have been reducing output and jobs as a way of coping with a six-year low in the copper price , and Codelco has been cutting costs.
Despite the cost cuts, last year it said it had a pre-tax loss of $2.19 billion, significantly down from a $3.03 billion profit in 2014, and its worst bottom-line result since it began issuing earnings reports in the early 1990s.
Codelco was nationalized in the 1970s and returns all its profits to the state, providing an important source of income to the government.
The fall in the copper price, sparked by cooling demand in key buyer China, has forced the center-left government of President Michelle Bachelet to curb budget spending and reduce economic growth forecasts.
Codelco said its production cost per pound was $1.39 in 2015, down 8 percent from the previous year.
Copper was trading at $2.23 per pound in London on Thursday. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Bill Trott)