Freeport-McMoRan Trims Outlook on Delays in Indonesia Expansion

April 21 (Reuters) – Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX.N) shares fell more than 7% on Thursday after the mining giant trimmed its 2022 and 2023 copper outlook due to expansion challenges in Indonesia as it tries to match surging global demand for the red metal.

The company, which also reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit,said its copper sales should dip 1% this year and the next due to “changes in geology and other conditions” expected to slow down its expansion at Indonesia’s Grasberg copper mine from 2023 to 2025.

The company also cited pandemic-related delays earlier this year at its U.S. mines.

While Freeport gave an upbeat outlook for long-term copper prices, the delays spooked investors who are betting on rising usage of copper in electric vehicles, solar panels and other technologies that help reduce global emissions.

“It’s very, very challenging to develop new supplies” of copper, President Kathleen Quirk told investors.

While Freeport’s copper production has risen the past two years, “it’s not common in our industry to see that kind of growth .. and that’s really what underpins the fundamental outlook,” Quirk added.

Phoenix-based Freeport reported net income for the quarter ended March 31 of $1.57 billion, or $1.04 per share, compared with $718 million, or 48 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding one-time items, Freeport earned $1.07 per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 94 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The average realized price Freeport received for the red metal rose more than 18% to $4.66 per pound in the first quarter, while quarterly production rose to 1.01 billion pounds, up more than 10% from a year earlier.

In Peru, Adkerson said he would like to own more of the Cerro Verde mine, which Freeport operates. Sumitomo Metal Mining Co (5713.T)owns about 44% of the mine.