UPDATE 2-Protests, lawsuit at Chile mine cloud Antofagasta outlook
* Payout ratio cut to 35 pct in 2014 from 142 pct in 2013
* Los Pelambres desalination plant would cost $300-400 mln
* Shares fall as much as 4.5 percent (Adds detail, CEO quotes)
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Environmental protests and a court ruling affecting Antofagasta's Los Pelambras mine in Chile have clouded the outlook for its copper production this year and driven the company to slash its dividend.
Antofagasta, majority owned by Chile's Luksic family, is grappling with weaker copper prices and falling metal grades, as well as the protests and lawsuit affecting Los Pelambres, which produces more than half the miner's copper.
A court in Chile ruled last week that the firm must demolish a mine tailings dam at Los Pelambres, which protesters say is affecting water availability. Antofagasta is appealing the ruling but said it casts doubt over the outlook for the mine.
"Local protests have reduced expected copper production at Los Pelambres by some 8,000 tonnes of copper," the company said in a statement on Tuesday announcing 2014 results.
"These protests, along with the adverse ruling from the Civil Court of Los Vilos, mean that there is some inherent uncertainty as to the potential impact on Los Pelambres 2015 production levels," the London-listed company said. Continuación...