First Quantum profit up; fixes problems at Cobre Panama

(Reuters) - Canadian base metal miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd reported higher third-quarter earnings on Wednesday on the back of increased production, in part due to its takeover this year of a smaller rival, and despite lower metals prices received.

The company completed its takeover of Inmet Mining Corp in April, winning access to one of the world's biggest untapped copper deposits, the Cobre Panama project in Peru. Inmet pegged the development cost of the project at $6.2 billion.

First Quantum's review of the project revealed a number of "acquired technical and logistical shortcomings particularly with project planning and implementation that required immediate, corrective action", Philip Pascall, First Quantum's chief executive and chairman, said in a statement.

He added that "most" of that was now done and that the project was running well.

Net earnings attributable to First Quantum shareholders rose to $143 million, or 24 cents a share, from $107.3 million, or 23 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 21 cents a share on revenue of $932.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales revenue rose to $885.4 million from $724.8 million.

Cash costs per pound of copper fell to $1.16 from $1.44 while the average realized copper price dropped to $3.10 a pound from $3.45 a pound.

First Quantum produced 114,488 tons of copper in the third quarter, up from 84,144 tons in the same period a year ago.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; editing by Bernard Orr and Matthew Lewis)

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