May 10 (Reuters) - Copper production at Chile’s large mines dropped 3.0 percent in annual terms in the first quarter of 2016, held back by the temporary closure of a plant at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine, government statistics showed late Monday.
Production at Escondida plummeted 23.5 percent to 265,600 tonnes, as the company shut a concentrator there in February. The plant is scheduled to be shut for a year, as the company undergoes an ambitious investment plan to boost efficiency.
Production at world number one copper producer Codelco , meanwhile, rose 8.4 percent to 469,800 tonnes, helped by an ongoing ramp-up at the Ministro Hales deposit and high production figures at the Salvador mine, according to Chile’s Cochilco copper commission.
The Collahuasi mine, operated jointly by Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc, produced 116,100 tonnes, a 11.1 boost from 2015. And Antofagasta Mineral’s flagship Los Pelambres mine produced 85,100 tonnes, a 4.4 percent increase.
In April, Cochilco estimated that Chile 2016 copper production would reach 5.77 million tonnes, a marginal increase from 2015. Copper prices, meanwhile, are expected to average $2.15 per pound in 2016, according to the government body. (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)