Chile's Codelco profit slumps, eyes stable 2023 copper production

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, is seen at their headquarters in downtown Santiago, Chile March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

SANTIAGO (Reuters) -Chilean state-owned copper producer Codelco expects to roughly maintain copper production levels in 2023, its chief executive said on Friday, amid ongoing maintenance of a key smelter and after recording a 63% slump in its 2022 pre-tax profit.

CEO Andre Sougarret told a news conference that the firm expects to produce between 1.350 million tonnes to 1.450 million tonnes this year.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, also said Friday that 2022 production totaled 1.446 million tonnes, a 10.6% drop from 2021 but in line with a previous results preview.

The company on Friday reported its 2022 pre-tax profit fell to $2.75 billion, hit by operational issues that affected sale volumes.

Its direct production costs rose 24.6% to $1.654 per pound from $1.327 the year before.

Sougarret added Friday that major maintenance of its Chuquicamata smelter is expected to be completed in April.

On the price of the metal in 2023, the company said it expects copper to reach between $3.5 and $4.4 per pound.

Chairman Maximo Pacheco said in January that Codelco had seen a drop in production in 2022 amid operational problems due to project delays.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Isabel Woodford and Deepa Babington