World’s largest copper producer Chile added in May 508,245 tonnes of the red metal, a 2.1% output increase, from a year earlier, boosted by new projects and operational improvements at an unidentified “important” processing plant, government statistics agency INE said Tuesday.
Production of the industrial metal jumped up 7.8% when compared to April’s totals, said the INE (in Spanish), despite dwindling ore grades in several of Chile’s aging copper mines.
From January through May Chile produced 2.43 million tonnes of copper, up 2.3% from the same period last year.
Production of molybdenum, a metal used to harden steel, surged 19.7% to 4,872 tonnes in May from a year earlier.
Though heavily tied to the fortunes of the Chinese economy, copper has been the only major industrial commodity to start the week off right. The metal closed Monday at $5,767 per tonne, but was trading Tuesday slightly lower. Three-month futures, however, were down 1% to $5,733.50 per metric tonne in London in early morning.
Companies including Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), Anglo American (LON:ANGLO) and Sumitomo all have operations in the country, which hosts some of the world’s largest copper mines.