(Adds production data, analyst forecast)
May 1 (Reuters) - Canadian base metal miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd reported lower first-quarter earnings on Thursday due to weaker metal prices even as it increased production across all the metals it mines.
The company, which primarily mines copper but also produces nickel and gold, said earnings fell to $126.8 million, or 22 cents a share, in the three months through March, from $153.8 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, expected First Quantum to report earnings of 25 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company, which took over rival Inmet Mining last year, gaining control of the huge Cobre Panama project, is poised to become one of the world’s largest copper producers over the next five years, with a number of projects, including Cobre Panama in Central America, set to begin production.
The Vancouver-based miner produced 113,118 tonnes of copper in the quarter, up 42 percent from the same period a year ago. Nickel output rose 7 percent and gold production 8 percent.
Cash costs per pound of copper fell 9 percent to $1.38, while the average copper price the company received fell to $3.10 a pound from $3.48 a pound.
First Quantum left unchanged its full-year forecasts for production and costs. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; editing by David Gregorio and Matthew Lewis)