LONDON Production of miner Anglo American's (AAL.L) key commodities edged higher in the first three months of the year, with iron ore rebounding from a damaging strike at its South African Kumba Iron Ore (KIOJ.J) unit last year.
Platinum remained a weak point as expected, however, with equivalent refined production down 2 percent to 583,000 ounces, hit by drops at South African underground mines where it has seen intermittent illegal strike action.
Anglo, which is planning to slash jobs and mothball mines to bring its Anglo American Platinum (AMSJ.J) unit back to profit, expects to refine and sell between 2.2 and 2.3 million ounces of platinum in 2013, subject to its overhaul plan going through.
But it also signalled cash costs of around 16,500 rand per equivalent refined platinum ounce in 2013, at the top end of previous forecasts.
The group is currently in consultation with the government and unions, locked in talks that were extended to April 30.
Iron ore accounted for almost half the group's annual profit and the unit showed an improvement after strikes battered its Kumba Iron Ore (KIOJ.J) unit. Output came in slightly lower than analysts had forecast at 10.3 million tonnes for the quarter, up 2 percent year-on-year, but still showed a 15 percent improvement on the last three months of 2012.
But copper and coal provided brighter spots, with copper one percent higher at 170,400 tonnes, beating expectations of a drop in the red metal given operational woes, as the ramp up of its Los Bronces mine offset lower production at Collahuasi in Chile.
Export metallurgical coal also beat expectations, rising 23 percent to 4.6 million tonnes.
A poor performance from diamonds and nickel however, with diamonds undershooting at just 3 percent improvement, and nickel production almost halving after the company was forced to cease operations at its Venezuelan Loma de Niquel mine.
Later on Friday, Anglo has its annual general meeting, the first under new chief executive Mark Cutifani.
Anglo's shares opened in line with the sector and were trading up 1.7 percent at 8.02 a.m. BT at 1,589 pence.
(Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Paul Sandle)