First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) said on Wednesday its first-quarter profit plunged 94 percent, as higher copper and gold production was more than offset by a sharp drop in copper prices and a $32.5 million hedging loss.

The copper and gold miner earned $10.9 million, or 16 cents a share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That was down from a profit of $182 million, or $2.68 a share in the year-ago period.

Quarterly revenue dropped 48 percent to $268.2 million, as realized copper prices fell to $1.56 from $3.51.

Copper production rose 18 percent to 89,440 tonnes, while gold output tripled to 50,425 ounces. Cash costs eased to 97 cents per copper pound from $1.02 a pound a year before.

The company, which is based in Canada but operates in Africa, said it expects costs to average 80 cents a pound during 2009 due to cost savings initiatives and declining processing costs.

However, it said the expected price could rise due to tight Zambian smelter capacity, which could force the company to have to export its copper concentrate at higher costs.

First Quantum reiterated its full-year output should total 380,000 tonnes of copper and 240,000 ounces of gold.

(Reporting by Cameron French)© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved