(Adds details on production, background)
Jan 23 (Reuters) - Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Plc ended the year with annual output at the higher end of its forecast, boosted by record fourth-quarter production as well as better grades and output at its Centinela mine.
The FTSE 100 company stuck to its production estimate for the coming year and forecast higher capital spending in 2019 of $1.2 billion, which it said would go partly towards the expansion of its flagship Los Pelambres mine in Chile. The mine already pumps out about half of Antofagasta’s copper output.
Antofagasta’s fourth-quarter production jumped to 220,000 tonnes from 177,800 tonnes reported a year earlier. That brought the 2018 production to 725,300 tonnes, a 3 percent rise.
For 2019, the miner said copper output was expected to be in the range of 750,000 to 790,000 tonnes. The company is based in Chile, the world’s top producer of the metal used in power, construction and electric vehicles.
Antofagasta’s positive update offers some respite as a protracted Sino-U.S. trade war had pushed copper prices lower last year and stoked fears over demand from world’s top metals consumer China.
The miner, which was incorporated well over a century ago in London, was recently forced to tighten its 2018 production guidance due to these demand disruptions.
Net cash costs in the quarter came in at $0.99 per pound, the lowest since 2012, said Antofagasta, which has been offloading non-core assets to focus on copper. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Anil D’Silva)