Southern Copper says will produce 9% more copper this year

Reuters reports Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO) expects its 2012 output to increase almost 9% from the previous year.

Copper production is seen at 640,000 tonnes in 2012. Yesterday the base metals miner, a unit of Grupo Mexico, said that year-on-year copper production in 2011 increased by 23% to 587,491.

Reuters reports:

"We expect production of 610,000 from our own operations and 30,000 tonnes to be processed from third parties," said Raul Jacobs, chief financial officer for Peruvian operations.

Referring to ore grades at the company's mines in Peru and Mexico, Jacobs said Southern Copper expects "a regular year."

The company also announced record annual earnings of more than $2 billion yesterday, but the news were overshadowed by the company’s decision to push back the start of operations at its $1 billion Tia Maria project until 2015.

Higher prices for copper, silver and zinc alongside rising production at its Buenaventura mine drove Southern Copper last year’s sales to a record high $6.82 billion, 32% higher than the $5.15 billion unveiled in 2010.

Southern Copper operates in Mexico and Peru and has field explorations in Chile. In 2009, the miner contributed 77% to the sales of Grupo Mexico, which controls 80% of it through its subsidiary Americas Mining Corporation (AMC).

Grupo Mexico’s mining operations in Peru include two open pit mines (Toquepala and Cuajone) and one metallurgical complex (Ilo). The mining operations in Mexico consist of two open pit copper mines (La Caridad and Cananea), several underground silver and zinc mines, and a large metallurgical complex.