* Says output hit by heavy snow in first half
* Aiming for 97,000 T of copper concentrate output in current FY
* That down from previous target of 100,000 T (Adds detail)
TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Japan’s JX Holdings Inc expects to miss the copper concentrate output target at its Caserones mine in Chile in the fiscal year ending next March due to slow output in the first six months, an executive said on Tuesday.
The company is aiming for output of 97,000 tonnes in the current business year, down from its August outlook of 100,000 tonnes, Katsuyuki Ota, JX Holdings Director and Executive Officer, told a news conference.
The mine’s ramp-up has been repeatedly delayed, weighing on profits at its owners, including JX and Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.
The move marks another downward revision after the company in May said it had aimed to more than double Caserones’ output to 137,000 tonnes this financial year from 63,000 tonnes the year before.
The mine produced just 17,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in April-June and 19,000 tonnes in July-September, hurt by heavy snow in June and the frozen equipment in July, Ota said.
The mine’s utilisation rate is expected to rise to nearly 90 percent in October-March, up from around 70 percent in the first half, he said, adding that the company aims to achieve full utilisation rates in February or March.
The target for the mine’s annual output capacity at full production is 150,000 tonnes.
JX has hired a consultant to help revamp the mine’s operations, and expects cost reductions to improve the business, Ota said.
The firm posted a loss of 22 billion yen ($210 million) at Caserones in the six months ended in September and expects the loss to grow to 31 billion yen for the full year, he added.
“We expect to narrow the losses more than initially expected in the current business year via cost cuts in the second half,” he said.
For the first half ended in September, JX on Tuesday posted a net profit of 25.4 billion yen, compared with a net loss of almost 45 billion yen a year ago, thanks to inventory gains.
Caserones is 77.37 percent-owned by Japan’s Pan Pacific Copper, a joint venture of JX and Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co Ltd. Mitsui & Co holds the remainder. ($1 = 104.3600 yen) (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)