UPDATE 1-First Quantum quarterly profit falls as metals prices drop

Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:02pm EDT

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July 31 (Reuters) - Canadian base metal miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd reported a drop in second-quarter earnings on Wednesday as realized copper and nickel prices fell.

Production in the quarter was boosted by First Quantum's takeover of smaller rival Inmet Mining Corp, which it completed in early April, winning access to one of the world's biggest untapped copper deposits, the Cobre Panama project in Peru.

First Quantum is betting its hands-on approach to procurement and construction can dent development costs for Cobra Panama that Inmet had pegged at $6.2 billion.

On Wednesday, First Quantum said it has already "considerably" slowed cash outflow at the project and plans to give a full update in the fourth quarter.

Cash costs per pound fell for both copper and nickel in the second quarter, but average realized prices also dropped.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders fell to $71.9 million, or 12 cents a share, from $142.0 million, or 30 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding unusual items, earnings fell to $106.1 million, or 18 cents a share. Revenue rose to $869.3 million from $722.3 million.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 23 cents a share on revenue of $937.2 million.

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