VANCOUVER Feb 20 Canadian base metal miner
First Quantum Minerals Ltd reported lower fourth-quarter
earnings on Thursday due to weaker metals prices despite an
increase in production and lower production costs.
The company, which primarily mines copper but also mines
nickel and gold, said net earnings fell to $131.3 million, or 22
cents a share, in the three months through December from $186.7
million, or 39 cents, a year earlier.
Comparative earnings, adjusted to remove the effect of
unusual items, fell to 23 cents a share from 39 cents a share a
Analysts, on average, expected First Quantum to report
earnings of 22 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters
The company, which took over rival Inmet Mining last year,
gaining control of the huge Cobre Panama, is poised to become
one of the world's largest copper producers over the next five
years, with a number of projects, including Cobre Panama in
Central America, set to begin production.
The Vancouver-based miner also declared a dividend of 9.3
Canadian cents ($0.08).
First Quantum produced 114,791 tonnes of copper in the
quarter, up from 84,918 tonnes in the same period a year ago.
Cash costs per pound of copper fell to $1.23 from $1.42 a
year earlier, while its average copper price fell to $3.26 a
pound from $3.46 a pound.
Looking ahead, First Quantum forecast it would produce
between 418,000 and 444,000 tonnes of copper in 2014 at a cash
cost of between $1.32 and $1.48 per pound. In 2013, it produced
412,281 tonnes of copper at a cash cost of $1.30 a pound.
It also said it expected capital spending of $2.1 billion
this year, with $600 million to be spent at each of its Cobre
Panama and Sentinel projects.
The company updated investors on its plans for Cobre Panama
in January, raising the project's estimated output but also
saying initial production would be later than previously planned
and capital costs would be $6.4 billion, about $200 million more
than Inmet had planned.