(Adds CEO’s comments on impact from rain stoppages, copper price forecast)
By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO, March 27 (Reuters) - Chile’s state-run Codelco produced 1.672 million tonnes of copper in full-year 2014, a 3.1 percent rise from a year earlier, the world’s No. 1 copper producer said on Friday.
The company said the jump in output was mostly due to Codelco’s newest mine, Ministro Hales, which produced 141,200 tonnes copper in 2014, up from just 33,600 tonnes in 2013 when it was in its initial ramp-up phase.
The increase more than made up for production decreases, that totaled 64,000 tonnes, at Radomiro Tomic, Gabriela Mistral and Andina.
Codelco’s two oldest mines, open-pit Chuquicamata and underground El Teniente, increased their copper output by a combined 7,000 tonnes last year.
Pre-tax profit fell 22 percent to $3.033 billion, dragged down by falling copper prices and higher financing costs.
Codelco said its direct cash costs in 2014 were 7.8 percent lower than a year earlier at $1.504 per pound of copper.
Torrential downpours in the north of Chile earlier this week forced companies, including Codelco, to suspend operations at several of the area’s major mines, putting an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of capacity of the red metal on hold.
Operations at Codelco’s Chuquicamata, Ministro Hales, Radomiro Tomic and Gabriela Mistral are now fully operational, though its Salvador mine has between 20 to 30 days to get there, chief executive Nelson Pizarro said at a press conference on Friday.
Codelco lost 6,500 tonnes of refined copper production due to the stoppages, Pizarro said.
He estimated that copper prices would average around $2.80 per pound in 2015, which would drag down Codelco’s pre-tax profit below 2014 levels. (Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, David Gregorio and Diane Craft)