May 12, 2010 / 7:21 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Inmet sees Las Cruces at full output by year-end

* 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 (Reuters) - 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.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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