(New throughout. Adds comments from conference call, partnership for Quebrada Blanca Phase 2, potential future oil sands spin-out)
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, July 26 (Reuters) - Teck Resources Ltd boosted its production forecasts for copper, zinc and oil on Thursday as the diversified miner reported market-beating profits on the back of higher prices for a range of commodities.
Flush with C$2.9 billion ($2.22 billion) in cash and C$7 billion in liquidity, Teck is in “great shape” to fund growth, said Chief Executive Don Lindsay, including big Chilean developments like the $4.8 billion Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project and $3.5 billion NuevaUnion project.
Shares in the base metal miner popped 4.5 percent higher on Thursday, in sharp contrast to broad declines for gold miners that reported lower production and higher costs.
With Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 permits expected in August, Teck said it will launch a formal process seeking a development partner, which could contribute some $2 billion for a 30 percent to 40 percent stake. It expects to close a deal in the fourth quarter.
Teck also aims to complete a feasibility study on NuevaUnion, a joint venture with Goldcorp to develop neighboring mines, by the third quarter of 2019.
With its new Galore Creek project partner, Newmont Mining , Teck plans to update a pre-feasibilty study in three to four years. Newmont agreed to pay $275 million to NovaGold Resources on Thursday for its 50-percent stake in the copper-gold project.
Asked on a conference call whether oil remains a core business, Linsday said that if the value of its stake in the Fort Hill oil sands is inadequately reflected in its stock in 2020 or 2021, when operations are well established, he would consider a spin-out, sale or partnership.
Separately, family-controlled Teck appointed as its new chairman Dominic Barton, an outsider and global managing partner of consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Current chair Norman Keevil, who joined Teck in 1962 as vice president of exploration, held the position of CEO from 1981 to 2001, when he became chairman. He retires from that role Oct. 1.
Teck, the world’s second-biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, stuck to its annual production forecast of 26 million to 27 million tonnes, but said production is now expected near the lower end of the range.
Third-quarter coal sales are seen rising to 6.8 million tonnes from 6.6 million tonnes in the second quarter, which lagged its 6.7 million tonne forecast due to two rail strikes. The average realized price rose 9.6 percent to $183 a tonne, Teck said.
Adjusted profit of C$1.12 per share beat analyst expectations of C$1.07.
$1 = 1.3038 Canadian dollars $1 = 1.3073 Canadian dollars Reporting by Susan Taylor and Shubham Kalia; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Phil Berlowitz