Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold of Phoenix, the globe's biggest publicly traded producer of copper and gold, projects to sell 3.85 billion pounds of copper rather than 3.9 billion pounds and 1.4 million ounces of gold instead of 1.5 million ounces, according to the firm's earnings statement from the fourth quarter. The larger projections are from November 2010, when Grasberg, the mine, was believed to be generating stronger production.
"Lower copper sales from Indonesia, resulting from mine sequencing to lower grade ores, are expected to be offset by increases in North America and Africa copper sales, compared to 2010," according to the company's statement.
Grasberg was generating an ore of lower grade, which means that a smaller amount of precious metal can be extracted from each ton of ore.
The firm's chief has said he would like to tap into soaring prices for the two precious metals. But strong action by China has weakened the market, according to an analyst.
"The metals sector is weak across the board after China reported stronger-than-expected economic growth, fueling expectations the Chinese government will more aggressively move to slow the economy," Deutsche Bank analyst Jorge Beristain told Bloomberg.
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