Chile copper output up 18.9 pct in first quarter 2018 -Cochilco

SANTIAGO, May 8 (Reuters) - Chile’s copper production increased 18.9 percent in the first quarter of 2018 from the same period a year earlier, Chilean copper commission Cochilco said on Tuesday.

Production this year was boosted by a low basis for comparison following an historic strike last year at BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest. Escondida tripled its production in the first quarter of 2018 to 322,700 tonnes, Cochilco said.

Between January and March, Chile, the world’s top copper producer and exporter, produced 1.42 million tonnes of the red metal, Cochilco said.

In March, the South American country’s copper production increased 30.8 percent year-on-year to 487,900 tonnes.

State miner Codelco produced 446,300 tonnes of copper in the first quarter, according to Cochilco’s statistics, which marked a 7.2 percent increase over the previous year.

The Collahuasi copper mine in northern Chile, owned by Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc increased production by 5 percent in the first quarter to 137,600 tonnes, Cochilco said. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Sandra Maler)