LONDON Aug 29 Chilean copper miner Antofagasta
posted a drop of more than 7 percent in first-half
profit, as falling prices and higher exploration costs dented
the impact of increased production from its challenging
Esperanza, a trouble spot since its ramp up began, was hit
by fresh operational woes at the start of this year and the
miner said on Wednesday would spend an additional $200 to $250
million over 2013 and 2014 to improve processes at the mine and
bring it up to full design capacity.
Antofagasta, posting a considerably more modest drop in
earnings than its diversified peers and copper rivals, said net
income dropped 7.2 percent to $646.1 million for the six-month
period, compared with a consensus analyst forecast of $653
million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Antofagasta, which had already reported increased production
in line with its 2012 target, and said revenues rose 3.5 percent
to $3.16 billion. But it was cautious with its dividend, up just
6.3 percent to 8.5 cents per share.
Copper prices have fallen some 25 percent from highs touched
in February 2011. Antofagasta said the average LME copper price
per pound fell almost 14 percent on the same period a year ago.
Antofagasta last month appointed Diego Hernandez, the former
head of state miner Codelco as its new chief
executive, scooping up one of the biggest names in copper as it
battles operational challenges.