(Adds more details, CEO comment)
Aug 25 (Reuters) - Chilean copper mine Antofagasta said on Tuesday it was targeting savings of about $160 million this year as it posted a 49 percent decline in first-half core profit, hit by a steep fall in prices of the metal.
The miner said first-half core profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), totalled $562 million, down from $1.09 billion a year ago and lagging a company-provided consensus of $594 million.
Copper prices recently hit their lowest levels since 2009 on concerns over slowing economic growth in China, the world’s top consumer of industrial metals.
“Throughout this period of lower copper prices Antofagasta has had a rigorous approach to cost control at our operations and we are on track to make $160 million (in) savings in 2015,” Chief Executive Diego Hernández said in a statement.
The company reported a 31 percent drop in first-half revenue to $1.79 billion.
The company said the copper market was “largely in balance” with a small surplus expected in the second half of this year.
London-listed Antofagasta has also been hurt by declining ore grades, unfavourable weather and environmental protests.
It cut its annual copper output forecast last month for the second time this year to 665,000 tonnes due to the delayed commissioning and subsequent ramp-up of its Antucoya project in Chile.
The company, controlled by Chile’s Luksic family, is focusing on its $1.9 billion Antucoya greenfield project and other brownfield expansions to cope with a fall in production due to aging mines and declining copper grades.
It also recently bought a 50 percent stake in Barrick Gold’s Zaldivar copper mine in Chile in a deal both parties said was just the start of more cooperation.
Antofagasta shares have dropped 29 percent this year, compared to a 35 percent fall in the London-listed mining sector . (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo in Johannesburg; Editing by Susan Fenton)