* Production increases but below planned levels
* Output levels stabilizing after cost overruns, delays
TOKYO Feb 7 Japan's JX Holdings Inc
expects to exceed the copper concentrate output target at its
troubled Caserones mine in Chile for the year ending March 31,
an executive said on Tuesday, but production is still below
The company expects output of a little more than 98,000
tonnes in the current business year, up from its November
outlook of 97,000 tonnes, Katsuyuki Ota, JX Holdings' director
and executive officer, told an earnings news conference.
The expected output is still less than two thirds of the
150,000 tonnes of concentrate planned when the company started
construction of the mine, which has been hit by repeated delays
and costs overruns.
JX said last May it was aiming to produce 137,000 tonnes in
the year through March, but it cut that target to 100,000 tonnes
in August, and reduced it again to 97,000 tonnes.
The repeated delays in the ramp-up have been weighing on
profits at JX and Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co,
which also has a stake in the mine.
Ota said operations have stabilised after problems last
year, but the mine has not reached the break-even point at
current copper prices. Still, he said there is no need for
writedowns on the Caserones mine.
He said output in the fourth quarter ending March 31 is
projected at 33,000 tonnes, up from 29,000 tonnes in the
"Production exceeded our plan slightly in the third quarter
and output is likely to top 12,000 tonnes in March alone," he
Operations are set to be near peak output next month, he
said, but he didn't give a target for achieving full production.
The company is likely to continue curbs on its investments
in the next fiscal year from April 1 as it prioritises improving
its finances after posting write-downs in the past business
years due to declining resource prices.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and