Copper miner Antofagasta aims to increase production by more than 9 percent this year, anticipating slower output growth after an almost 23 percent jump in 2011, when the miner topped its targeted range, thanks to the ramp up of its Esperanza mine.
The London-listed miner said copper production in the fourth quarter rose more than 13 percent to 187,000 tonnes, making it the strongest three months of the year, and helping 2011 output rise to 640,500 tonnes, just above its target.
It is aiming for 2012 copper production of 700,000 tonnes, below some analysts' expectations.
Copper production has dropped at many of the industry's largest producers over 2011, when the industry was hit by freak weather, strikes and lower grades as projects mature.
Gold output in the fourth quarter jumped almost a third quarter-on-quarter, as flagship growth project Esperanza continued to increase production rates and saw higher grades.
The group reported full-year gold production of 196,800 ounces, compared with 35,100 ounces in 2010, and is expected to produce 280,000 ounces of gold in 2012.
Esperanza alone is expected to produce 160,000 to 175,000 tonnes of payable copper, with gold production from the mine set to hit between 240,000 to 260,000 ounces.
Molybdenum production rose 12.5 percent over the year thanks to the Los Pelambres expansion.
Group cash costs, net of by-product credits, dropped to 101.9 cents per pound in 2011 from 104 cents in 2010, largely due to lower average costs at Esperanza. Costs are expected to tick higher again this year, hitting 105 cents per pound.
The market price for copper, however, weakened in the second half of last year, with the LME copper price averaging 339.7 cents per pound in the fourth quarter, compared with 407.4 cents per pound in the previous three months.