Canada's First Quantum Minerals posted a surprise profit on Thursday, helped by higher sales and production, driven by a ramp-up of its Cobre Panama copper mine.
First Quantum's total copper production rose 29% to 204 270 t, while sales jumped 31.8%.
The company has been actively developing its Cobre Panama project, which started commercial production last September, with its final mill becoming operational in mid-December. Cobre is among Panama's largest copper mines.
First Quantum last month strengthened its defence against a hostile takeover after China's Jiangxi Copper became the miner's largest shareholder with an 18% stake. The move followed talks between the companies for a potential sale of a minority interest in First Quantum's Zambian assets.
The miner, which is scouting for strategic partners to develop new copper projects, has said it may team-up with Rio Tinto, to develop its Peru copper mine. First Quantum owns the Haquira deposit in the South American country, while Rio owns the La Granja porphyry copper project.
First Quantum's average copper price realization fell 7.4% to $2.62/lb in the fourth quarter, as the metal's demand fell, especially from top consumer China due to a prolonged Sino-US trade war.
Excluding items, the company earned 5c a share, while analysts had estimated a loss of 2c a share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.