Chile Codelco 2012 copper output skids 5.1 pct to 1.647 mln tns

SANTIAGO, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03pm EDT

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SANTIAGO, March 28 (Reuters) - The world's No. 1 copper producer, Chile's Codelco, said on Thursday its 2012 output skid 5.1 percent to 1.647 million tonnes, excluding production from its stakes in the Anglo Sur and El Abra mines, due to dwindling performance at its ageing mines.

Lower ore grades, harder rocks and deeper deposits crimped output last year, the state-run miner said. But Codelco added that profits before tax and extraordinary items jumped 7 percent in 2012 to $7.518 billion.

Codelco has said it expects to produce more this year than last, as the new Ministro Hales mine comes on line.