UPDATE 1-Japan's JX says Caserones copper mine set to operate fully from Sept
(Adds output estimate)
TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - Japan's JX Holdings Inc said on Friday its Caserones copper mine in Chile was on track to reach full operation in September.
"We had a temporary problem from flooding in March and April, and heavy snow in July. But the mine is running at a utilisation rate of around 70 percent now and we expect it will reach full operation in September," Executive Officer Katsuyuki Ota told a news conference on its first-quarter earnings.
Chile, which produces a third of the world's copper, was hit by heavy rain this year that flooded towns, wiped out roads and cut electricity.
A spokesman at JX Nippon Mining & Metals, JX's metal unit and Japan's biggest copper smelter, said it expected Caserones to produce 80,000 tonnes of copper concentrate this calendar year, below its earlier estimate of 90,000 tonnes due to the bad weather.
Caserones, which began commercial operation in May 2014, supplied 19,000 tonnes of copper concentrate last year and produced 18,000 tonnes in the January-June half this year, he said.
Supplies of high-quality copper concentrate shrank more than expected in the first half of this year due to output delays in Chile, squeezing the pipeline for metal producers, traders said earlier this month. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Alan Raybould)
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