* Spanish copper mine has faced series of delays
* Commercial production seen by mid-year
* Full capacity seen at 72,000 tonnes/yr of copper
TORONTO, May 12 Inmet Mining IMN.TO said on
Wednesday it expects its Las Cruces copper mine in Spain to
reach commercial production by the end of June and full output
by the end of the year, following a series of delays.
The high-grade mine was delayed from its original 2008
startup due to a since-resolved dispute over its water permit.
The mine began production last year and had been expected
to reach commercial levels in May, before technical problems
prompted the company to temporarily stop work, while torrential
rains delayed its restart.
Speaking at an investor conference, Inmet Chief Executive
Jochen Tilk said mining has resumed, and commercial levels are
now targeted by mid-year.
"We have some confidence and some good reasons to be
confident to declare commercial production towards the end of
this quarter and then to be able to reach design production by
the end of this year," he said.
Inmet's shares rose following the comments, and were up 2
percent at C$51.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The company had previously expected the mine to reach full
production capacity by August.
Las Cruces is expected to produce 72,000 tonnes of copper
when running at full capacity.
The mine is Inmet's fifth and largest producing operation.
However, the company is banking heavily on its Cobre Panama
copper project in Panama, which is expected to one day produce
more than 275,000 tonnes of copper a year. It is expected to
begin production in 2014.
(Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson)