* Chile now seen producing 5.53 mln tonnes of copper this
* World No.1 copper miner Chile fighting lower ore grades
* Copper prices seen at $3.27/lb vs previous view of
SANTIAGO, July 8 Chile cut its copper output
forecast for the year to 5.53 million tonnes due to setbacks at
certain mines, though production is still expected to jump from
2012 as a new deposit comes online, the mining ministry said on
In April, state copper commission Cochilco forecast the
world No. 1 copper producer's red metal output would reach 5.58
million tonnes this year.
The lower estimate is due to delays at Japan's JX Holdings'
Caserones mine and lower forecasts for output from the
Spence and Esperanza deposits, run by global miner BHP Billiton
and Chilean miner Antofagasta Minerals respectively,
Cochilco told Reuters.
But production is still seen rising in 2013 as leading
copper miner Codelco's new Ministro Hales mine comes
on line at the end of the year and output grows at mega mines
Collahuasi and Escondida.
In 2012, Chile boosted its copper production by 3 percent to
5.455 million tonnes.
The Andean country is seeking to boost results at its huge,
aging mines, but sliding grades, soaring costs, labor unrest and
energy woes could curb its ambitious plans.
Red metal output is seen climbing to 5.69 million tonnes
next year, slightly down from Cochilco's previous forecast for
5.73 million tonnes.
Cochilco also cut its view for 2013 average copper prices to
$3.27 per lb from $3.57 due to a slowdown in top metals consumer
China, the prospect of the U.S. Federal Reserve winding down its
economic stimulus program, and a projected copper surplus in the
The price of copper, seen by some as a barometer for the
health of the global economy, has fallen about 15 percent this
Copper prices are seen slumping further next year to average
$3.15 per lb, the government said, down from a previous
projection for $3.32.
A drop in metal prices poses a significant risk to the
export-dependent Chilean economy, where copper accounts for
roughly 60 percent of export revenue. Analysts have long warned
commodities-focused Latin American countries should diversify