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First Quantum turns quarterly profit Add to ...

Metals miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. reported Tuesday a fourth-quarter profit of $227.2-million (U.S.), reversing a year-ago loss of $491.6-million, helped by improved prices as demand returned with the lifting of the recession's dampening effect.

The Vancouver-based gold and copper miner, which reports results in U.S. dollars, said the profit amounted to $2.91 per share versus a loss of $7.19 per share in the same period of 2009, when it booked $254.2-million impairment charge on its investments.

"The average realized copper price for Q4 was significantly higher than Q4 2008, when the sharp decline in copper price impacted both the Q4 sales and provisional pricing adjustment," the company said in a statement.

"The realized copper price improved consistently through 2009 aided by increased local smelter capacity which resulted in reduced realization charges."

Quarterly production rose to 98,528 tonnes copper from 95,635 tonnes in the year-earlier period. Gold production rose to 62,679 ounces from 39,644 ounces.

Net sales rose to $656.3-million from $12.4-million as the company's realized selling price for copper, its primary product, rose to $2.79 per pound from negative four cents in the prior-year period.

For the full year, First Quantum said it earned $463.4-million, $6.14 per share, compared with $45.9-million, 67 cents per share in 2008. Annual production rose to 373,940 tonnes of copper from 334,415 tonnes and 193,288 ounces of gold versus 116,177 ounces in 2008.

The company said it expects 2010 production to increase to 385,000 tonnes of copper and 240,000 ounces of gold.

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