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Freeport's net income jumps 16.1% to $743M in 4th qtr.

Keywords: Tags  Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, copper, gold, molybdenum, Richard Adkerson, Grasberg Mine, Morenci Mine, Chino Mine Suzy Waite

NEW YORK — Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s net income jumped 16.1 percent to $743 million in the fourth quarter from $640 million in the same period a year earlier on sales that climbed 8.4 percent to more than $4.51 billion.

Consolidated copper sales for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased 18.1 percent to 972 million pounds from 823 million pounds, gold sales soared 91 percent to 254,000 ounces from 133,000 ounces and molybdenum sales rose 10.5 percent to 21 million pounds from 19 million pounds, the Phoenix-based company said.

But net income for the full year fell 33.3 percent to $3.04 billion from $4.56 billion in 2011 on a 13.7-percent decline in sales to $18.01 billion. Full-year consolidated copper sales slipped 1.4 percent to 3.65 billion pounds from 3.7 billion pounds in 2011 and gold sales slid 28.6 percent to 1 million ounces from 1.4 million ounces, although molybdenum sales rose 5.1 percent to 83 million pounds from 79 million pounds.

The company expects to sell 4.3 billion pounds of copper this year, including 940 million pounds in the first quarter; 1.4 million ounces of gold (230,000 ounces in the first quarter); and 90 million pounds of molybdenum (23 million pounds in the first quarter).

Freeport is on track to increase copper production to more than 5 billion pounds by 2015 from 3.66 billion pounds last year, and remains positive about the long-term outlook for its business, which includes extensive "opportunities that the pending oil and gas acquisitions will provide," president and chief executive officer Richard Adkerson said in a statement.

Freeport announced Dec. 5 that it would acquire Plains Exploration & Production Co. and McMoRan Exploration Co. for $9 billion (, Dec. 5). Freeport said the acquisitions will make it a "premier U.S.-based natural resource company."

The company faced delays in receiving higher-grade material at its Grasberg, Indonesia, mine last year (, Oct. 22), but said the issues are mostly behind it as Grasberg’s sales are expected to increase to 1.1 billion pounds this year from 716 million pounds in 2012 and gold sales to 1.2 million ounces from 915,000 ounces.

In North America, where Freeport operates seven open-pit copper mines, the company said it has completed projects to increase production, including restarting certain mining and milling operations and increasing mining rates at Morenci in Arizona and Chino in New Mexico.

Freeport’s North American mines produced 358 million pounds of copper in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent from 341 million pounds a year earlier; and 1.36 billion pounds for the full year, an 8.3-percent increase from 1.26 billion pounds in 2011. North American molybdenum production of 36 million pounds last year was up marginally from 2011.

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