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UPDATE 1-Miner Anglo American's first-quarter production up 3%

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LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - Mining group Anglo American’s first-quarter production rose 3% year on year despite some operations running at 95% capacity because of COVID-19 disruptions, it said on Thursday.

Copper production climbed 9% to 160,000 tonnes in the quarter from 147,000 tonnes in the same period last year, but down from 168,000 tonnes in the previous three months. Diamond output slipped 7% year-on-year, partly due to excessive rainfall in southern Africa and a COVID-19-related shutdown in Canada.

Iron ore production was up 1% at 16.2 million tonnes in the first quarter, while production of platinum group metals rose to 1.02 million ounces from 955,000 in the same period a year ago.

Anglo expects copper output to reach between 640,000 tonnes and 680,000 tonnes this year. It also kept its output targets unchanged for other resources, including iron ore and platinum group metals.

But it cut its guidance for metallurgical coal to between 14 and 16 million tonnes from 18-20 million earlier, as the Moranbah operation in Australia remains suspended.

“The company has maintained its full year 2021 production guidance, except for met coal ... we do not see major earnings changes for consensus earnings on the back of production results,” Citi analysts said in a note.

The London-listed miner is in the process of spinning off its South African thermal coal business into a new company, as it moves to transition out of assets that mine the most polluting fossil fuel.

“Anglo American’s portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future-enabling metals and minerals, with our recently proposed demerger of our thermal coal operations in South Africa moving us further in that direction,” Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said in the company’s production statement. (Reporting by Clara Denina. Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)

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