Profit at China's Jinchuan International surges on higher cobalt, copper prices

BEIJING, March 27 (Reuters) – Chinese miner and metals trader Jinchuan Group International Resources Co Ltd said on Tuesday its 2017 net profit was almost five times bigger than a year earlier due to higher cobalt and copper prices.

Jinchuan, which operates the Ruashi copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Chibuluma copper mine in Zambia, posted net profit of $41.6 million last year, up from 8.3 million a year earlier.

The company had said on March 7 it expected full-year consolidated profit to reach at least $30 million for 2017.

"The group has been actively pursuing other suitable copper or cobalt projects to capture opportunities for strategic development," Jinchuan International said in Tuesday's earnings statement posted on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Its 2017 net profit is the highest since 2013, when it raked in $203.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data based on company figures. It had recorded two consecutive heavy annual losses in 2014 and 2015 as copper prices slumped.

London Metal Exchange prices for cobalt, a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, more than doubled last year, while copper climbed by around 32 percent.

Jinchuan International, the listed international arm of China's Jinchuan Group, said it expected copper and cobalt prices to "show a steady to optimistic outlook in medium to long term".

Jinchuan International also expects its Kinsenda project, a copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo controlled by its South African subsidiary Metorex, to be in production from early 2018.

(Reporting by Tom Daly in Beijing and Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore)