May 15, 2012 / 4:55 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chile Codelco: 2012 copper prices strong, volatile

* Copper hits 4-mth low on China, Greece fears

* Codelco CFO says copper market fundamentals solid (Adds CFO quote, details on copper prices, Codelco)

SANTIAGO, May 15 (Reuters) - Copper prices will be strong this year and the red metal’s market fundamentals remain solid, but volatile price fluctuations are likely, Chile state copper giant Codelco’s CFO Thomas Keller said on Tuesday.

Copper prices hit a four-month low in London on Tuesday, shrugging off upbeat German growth data as other EU economies contracted and the euro fell amid concerns over slower growth in China and a political stalemate in Greece.

“In general we think (copper prices) will be good this year, though subject to important fluctuations,” Keller told reporters. “Market fundamentals remain solid, and upward or downward (price) fluctuations are only to be expected.”

Keller’s comments were made during a hospital tour to showcase medical equipment that use copper for it anti-bacterial properties.

World top copper producer Codelco’s 2011 pre-tax profits surged 21 percent from a year earlier to $7.033 billion on firm metal prices and a rise in output despite higher production costs, the company reported in March.

While the market is jittery over a possible slowdown in top metals consumer China, many miners remain upbeat on prices due to ongoing disruptions in mines and a lack of major new projects.

Chile, which produces about a third of the world’s copper, has been hit by work stoppages, freak weather, dwindling ore grades and ballooning energy woes that have crimped the lynchpin mining sector’s metal output. (Reporting By Fabian Cambero. Writing by Alexandra Ulmer. Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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