Antofagasta posts fall in first-half copper output

CHILEAN copper miner Antofagasta yesterday posted a 6.6 per cent fall in first-half copper output, slightly better than its own expectations, and said costs remained sharply higher than last year.<br /><br />The London-listed firm said group cash costs in the second quarter stayed at the same level as the first quarter, up 35 per cent from 2008.<br /><br />&ldquo;The market will be disappointed that costs have remained unchanged at 97.5 cents/lb...there will have to be good progress made in the second half if the market is not to be disappointed,&rdquo; said analyst Jon Bergtheil at Citigroup.<br /><br />Costs have surged partly due to reduced byproduct credits for molybdenum, which has seen steep price declines. Investors appeared to focus more on Antofagasta&rsquo;s exposure to the copper price. Demand for copper withered during the economic downturn and is still about 40 per cent below last year&rsquo;s peak.