December 16, 2016 / 4:07 PM / 3 years ago

Miners in Peru speeding up copper output to seize better prices

LIMA, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Mining companies in Peru, a leading copper exporter, are accelerating their production of copper to take advantage of better prices for the red metal, the finance minister said in broadcast comments on Friday.

Copper production in Peru surged 38 percent year-on-year in October largely on the back of rising output from MMG Ltd’s year-old mine Las Bambas and Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s recently-expanded Cerro Verde mine.

“What we’re seeing is that many miners are bringing forward their production to benefit from these higher prices,” the minister, Alfredo Thorne, said on broadcaster RPP.

Copper prices have risen since Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency as an inflation hedge amid expectations his plans to boost fiscal spending will fan prices.

Peru is on track to become the world’s second-biggest copper producer this year thanks to rising output from new mines commissioned during the commodities boom earlier this century.

Thorne added that a sharp drop in public investments in October that contributed to the construction sector’s worst contraction in 12 years was part of a transition to a bigger role for the private sector in public work projects.

“Some public investment projects have stalled because they want to be part of the new system...a more agile system, less paperwork and less participation from the government, and that’s positive,” Thorne said.

Private investments are expected to fall 7 percent in the fourth quarter year-on-year due to Brazilian engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA’s stalled $5 billion natural gas pipeline project and slumping mining investments, Thorne said.

Reporting By Marco Aquino; Editing by Alistair Bell

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