Copper miner Grupo Mexico swings to big profit as metal prices jump

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Grupo Mexico registered a net profit of $1.1 billion in this year’s first quarter, the Mexican mining and transport company said on Tuesday, helped by a 50% surge in copper prices during the first three months of the year.

The company’s billion dollar profit in the January-to-March period marked a sharp rebound from a nearly $370 million loss during the same period last year.

Grupo Mexico, the country’s third largest company by market capitalization, is the world’s fifth-biggest copper producer as well as a major rail freight operator in Mexico.

The firm’s total revenue during the first three months of this year reached $3.4 billion, up about 40% compared with the first quarter in 2020, the company said in a filing to the Mexican stock exchange.

Sales from Grupo Mexico’s mining division during the quarter reached $2.8 billion, up 56% from a year earlier, while sales from the company’s transport unit hit $593 million, down about 2%, the filing showed.

Sales for the infrastructure division grew by 8% during the quarter to reach some $147.5 million.

Meanwhile, the company’s tax bill during the three-month period reached $476 million.

Copper prices rose by 50.2% during the quarter, while prices for silver, molybdenum and zinc also rose by double-digits, or by 56%, 17% and 29%, respectively.

Production of the red metal was essentially flat for the quarter at slightly more than 271,000 tonnes. Both silver and gold output were up by about 6%, while zinc production slid by nearly 15% to settle around 16,500 tonnes.

The company, controlled by Mexican billionaire German Larrea, runs mines in Mexico, the United States and Peru, and its overall mining business accounted for around 90% of its first quarter profit.

Reporting by Noe Torres and Abraham Gonzalez; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio