May 3, 2017 / 9:48 PM / in 3 months

Southern Copper profit rises 70 percent on higher metals prices

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LIMA (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp on Wednesday reported net income of $314.4 million for the first quarter, up 70 percent from $185.1 million a year earlier and 82 percent above the $172 million posted in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Southern Copper, owned by Grupo Mexico, is one of the world's largest copper producers and operates mines in Mexico and Peru. The increase in profit came as copper prices rose 25 percent and zinc prices rose 65.8 percent, the company said.

A two-week strike last month at its Toquepala and Cuajone copper mines as well as its Ilo refinery in Peru reduced copper production by 1,418 tonnes, Southern Copper said in its earnings report. The two mines together produced 310,000 tonnes of copper last year, according to government data.

Net sales grew 27.2 percent to $1.6 billion, while the cost of sales grew 16.1 percent to $843.8 million, Southern Copper said. The company's capital investments grew 10 percent to $245.6 million due to a plan to boost copper output at Toquepala by 100,000 tonnes to 260,000 tonnes by 2019.

With the expansion, Southern Copper will produce 1 million tonnes in 2019, compared with 900,000 tonnes produced last year, chairman German Larrea said.

Reporting by Teresa Cespedes, writing by Caroline Stauffer and Luc Cohen; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Tom Brown

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