Chile’s Antofagasta shares dive despite record profit in 2011

Shares of Chilean miner Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) were down 3.1% this morning after the company disappointed market hopes for a whopping special dividend and announced instead a cut on dividends and an increased spending on growth projects.

The London-listed firm, one of the world’s leading copper producers, reported however record revenue and profits in 2011, with turnover of US$6.1 billion (up 32.7% over 2010) and EBITDA of US$3.7 billion (up 32.1% over 2010).

Copper production rose 22.9% year on year to 640,500 tonnes in 2011, with revenue up by nearly a third year on year to $6.08bn.

Antofagasta attributed the positive results to have increased production at Esperanza, its newest mine. The copper-gold operation supported a slight decrease in the weighted average group cash costs as a result of its significant by-product credits, and contributed 90,100 tonnes to production. This figure was still lower than expectations and so Antofagasta failed to hit its guidance figures of 715,000 tonnes of copper and 324,000 ounces of gold.

The Chilean company said it had addressed the issue by making improvements to increase the reliability of Esperanza’s plant, such as making the milling process more efficient.

Last week, the chief executive of Antofagasta’s copper division, Marcelo Awad resigned unexpectedly, leaving room to speculations about today’s announcement.

Jean-Paul Luksic, whose family controls 65% of Antofagasta, has assumed the vacant position on an interim basis, while also continuing in his role as Chairman of Antofagasta PLC.

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