UPDATE 1-KGHM profit disappoints, Chile project costs jump

Fri Mar 1, 2013 2:56am EST
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* Posts Q4 net below expectations at 753 mln zlotys

* Beats its guidance with FY 2012 net of 4.87 bln zlotys

* Sees joint costs of Chile project a third up at $3.9 bln

By Adrian Krajewski

WARSAW, March 1 (Reuters) - Europe's No.2 copper producer KGHM reported lower than expected fourth quarter earnings on Friday and warned of an increase in costs of more than a third at its copper project in Chile.

The state-controlled Polish miner reported a stand-alone net profit of 4.87 billion zlotys ($1.5 billion) for last year, 60 percent down from a record 2011 which was boosted by one-offs. The full-year profit was 3 percent more than the company had targeted, but the fourth quarter came in below analyst expectations.

The fourth quarter profit was 753 million zlotys - a fifth of the year-ago figure, which included telecom asset spin-offs, and almost a tenth below forecasts in a Reuters poll.

The miner, which is also the world's largest silver producer, expects no improvement this year, with a hit from a mining tax, implemented a year ago, curbing its net profit by a third to 3.2 billion zlotys.

The group estimated overall investment in its key Chilean copper project in Sierra Gorda at $3.9 billion, over a third more than it earlier envisaged in the face of rising exploration costs. The Sierra Gorda costs are split with Japan's Sumitomo.

The project, 55-percent controlled by KGHM, was part of a C$3-billion ($2.9 billion) purchase last year of Canada's Quadra FNX, now named KGHM International, with assets around the Americas.