Antofagasta chief makes shock exit ahead of full-year results

THE VETERAN chief executive of FTSE 100 miner Antofagasta, Marcelo Awad, has paid for the poor performance of the company’s flagship mine with his job.

The Chilean copper miner made the shock announcement yesterday with insiders suggesting that the board thought Awad had “taken his eye off the ball” in failing to ensure the ramping up of production at the Esperanza mine.

Awad, who has been chief executive for eight of his 16 years at the company, has been replaced on a temporary basis by chairman Jean-Paul Luksic, whose family controls the miner.

The company is due to publish full-year earnings next week and Awad’s departure is being seen as a chance to clean the slate before the company tries to push forward in 2012.

Antofagasta topped its production target for 2011 but rising costs and the Esperanza disappointment have taken their toll.

Antofagasta said full-year results would be in line with market expectations and the company said it would stick with its current growth strategy.