By Shihoko Goto — Exclusive to Copper Investing News
Company newsMajor mining groups, including Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX), the world's largest publicly-trader copper producer, released their latest production results this week. The Arizona-based company reported that copper sales for the first quarter reached 827 million pounds, lower than the 926 million pounds reached a year ago. For the full year, the company projects copper sales to reach 3.7 billion pounds. The company stated that its “growth projects” are expected to increase its copper production “by over 25 percent over the next three to four years,” and added that its Grasberg mine in Indonesia is now operating under normal conditions. Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) also released its latest production results. Copper output by the mining giant fell 18 percent from a year ago to 119,500 tons, due largely to lower-grade copper from its Utah mine. For the full year, Rio Tinto expects mined copper output to reach about 600,000 metric tons, short of analysts' expectations. Still, Chairman Jan du Plessis told shareholders that the company is “somewhat more confident than six months ago," adding that “[t]he world continues to face considerable uncertainty and we believe this will contribute to ongoing volatility." Robert Friedland, CEO of Ivanhoe Mines (NYSE: IVN), resigned Wednesday to make way for Rio Tinto to take the lead on the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mining project in Mongolia. Rio Tinto will be providing an immediate credit facility to the tune of $1.5 billion to ensure that the Mongolian mine's development remains on track, and will also support the completion of a syndicated loan reaching between $3 billion and $4 billion, Ivanhoe stated. As for BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP), it too reported its latest production results. Copper output rose three percent to 281,400 tonnes in the latest quarter. Anglo American (LSE: AAL) reported copper output surging 21 percent from a year ago to 168,400 tonnes, largely due to an expansion of its Los Bronces mine in Chile. Junior company news StrikePoint Gold (TSXV: SKP) has acquired by staking a 100 percent interest in the Pokiok copper and gold property west of Fredericton, New Brunswick. The company reported that 27 reconnaissance rock samples contain sub-economic but anomalous concentrations of metallic minerals including gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, lead, and zinc. Aurcana (TSXV: AUN) reported selling 8,199 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2011, down from 11,891 tonnes the previous year, at the average price of $4.04 a pound, up from $3.50 a pound in 2010.