August 9, 2017 / 7:22 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Japan's JXTG cuts Caserones copper mine output target

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TOKYO, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Japan’s JXTG Holdings cut its full-year target for copper concentrate output at its Caserones mine in Chile due to an unexpected halt in production in May caused by a blackout, company officials said on Wednesday.

The company expects output of 110,000 tonnes in the fiscal year ending March 31, versus its May forecast of 130,000 tonnes, Shinichi Nakaya, JXTG Holdings’ manager of financial report group, told Reuters after a briefing on its first-quarter earnings.

The Caserones copper mine was forced to halt operations for three weeks after power lines were damaged due to heavy snow and rain in mid-May, Katsuyuki Ota, JXTG Holdings’ director told reporters.

Copper concentrate output in April-June was 15,000 tonnes, down 2,000 tonnes from the same period a year ago, and about half the level initially planned, JXTG said.

Output in July-September is projected to recover to 29,000 tonnes. But that will still be about 20 percent down from earlier targets, Ota said.

Output at the Caserones project - 77.37 percent-owned by a joint venture between JXTG and Japan’s Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd - has been behind schedule since it started producing in May 2014 in the arid mountains of northern Chile. Trading house Mitsui & Co owns the remaining stake in the mine.

Forecast production at Caserones was held steady for 2018/19 at 140,000-145,000 tonnes and 2019/20 at 150,000 tonnes.

JXTG, formed from a merger of Japan’s biggest and third-biggest refiners, on Wednesday posted a net profit of 19 billion yen ($173 million) in April-June.

That compares with a combined profit of 51.1 billion yen for JX Holdings and TonenGeneral Sekiyu in the corresponding period a year earlier.

After the merger on April 1, JXTG, which controls about half of Japan’s domestic gasoline sales, said it expected to report annual net profit of 200 billion yen ($1.82 billion).

Ota said oil refining margins have fared better in April-June than a year earlier, reflecting lower crude refining capacity to comply with the trade ministry’s second round of directives to increase competitiveness of refining units.

$1 = 109.9200 yen Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin

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