* Q1 EPS $0.05/shr vs analyst estimate $0.07
* Maintains production expectations
* (In U.S. dollars, unless noted)
TORONTO, May 6 (Reuters) - Equinox Minerals EQN.TO reported a $32.5 million net profit for the first quarter on Thursday, compared with a year-before loss, as its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia reached commercial production in 2009.
Equinox, whose sole operating asset is Lumwana, earned $32.5 million, or 5 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31. That compared with a loss of $60.6 million, or 10 cents a share, in the year-before period.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected, on average, a profit of 7 cents a share.
Revenue was $200.7 million during the quarter, up from nil in the year-before period, when copper sales were not recorded as revenue. The mine’s production climbed 37 percent to 30,471 tonnes.
Equinox, which is 16-percent owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO), reiterated that it expects to produce 135,000 tonnes of copper in 2010.
Equinox plans to eventually expand Lumwana’s production beyond the 200,000 tonnes-per-year level, and also plans to build a uranium processing plant to extract uranium from the copper ore.
The company has been talking with potential partners that could help fund the mill.
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway