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Southern Copper posts record high sales in 2018 on higher prices

Tokyo β€” Southern Copper reported on Monday record high sales of $7 billion for 2018, up 6.6% from 2017, attributing to high metal prices. The previous record for the company was $6.8 billion in 2011.

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Sales volume of copper and zinc dropped, but those of byproducts rose, the company said.

Copper sales were down 0.3% to 885,854 mt, and zinc by 1% to 106,483 mt. Molybdenum sales volume rose by 3.3% to 22,055 mt, and silver surged by 15.3% to 19,440 oz.

Copper prices averaged $2.96/lb on the London Metal Exchange in 2018, up from $2.8/lb in 2017. Platts benchmark moly oxide averaged $11.86/lb, up from $8.13/lb in 2017; LME zinc $1.33/lb, up from $1.31/lb, and COMEX silver at $15.65/lb in 2018, down from $17.03/lb.

In 2018, production increased for all metals.

Total mined copper production at Peruvian and Mexican mines was 883,689 mt, up 0.8% from 2017, while mined zinc output was 70,778 mt, up 3.1%. Moly output was 21,985 mt in 2018, up 3.1%, and silver 17,308 oz, up 8.7% from the previous year.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, copper production was 234,991 mt, up 4% year on year; zinc 17,590 mt, up 26.8%, moly 5,657 mt, up 7.5%, and silver 4,299 oz, up 13.9%.

Ramp up at the Toquepala copper-moly mine in Peru, following the installation of a concentrator, drove the rise, the company said.

The company's 2019 copper production is seen to increase by at least 10% with the Toquepala ramp up. The concentrator will lift the copper output to 258,000 mt in 2019, up 88,000 mt or by 52% in 2018, the company said.

The company did not elaborate on the moly output forecast at Toquepala.

-- Mayumi Watanabe, mayumi.watanabe@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Ikhhlaq Singh Aujla, newsdesk@spglobal.com