The logo of Glencore is seen in front of the company's headquarters in the Swiss town of Baar.

London - Glencore Xstrata, the world’s biggest exporter of coal for power stations, said production of copper increased 18 percent in the first quarter as its mines in Africa boosted output.

Production was 321,800 metric tons in the three months ended March 31, Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore said today in a statement.

That compared with 273,200 tons a year earlier.

Output from African operations jumped 44 percent, it said.

The figures include operations acquired from Xstrata.

Glencore completed the 15-month long takeover of Xstrata this month to create the world’s fourth-largest mining company with a market value of $70 billion.

The combined group has interests in about 35 coal mines in Colombia, Africa and Australia, accounting for about 10 percent of global seaborne supplies of the fuel.

Coal output increased 1 percent to 32.7 million tons, it said.

Prices for the fuel exported from Australia, its largest coal producing region, were 23 percent lower in the quarter compared than a year earlier, it said.

The group has halted work on the Balaclava Island export terminal in Australia’s Queensland state because of poor market conditions and overcapacity, it said earlier in an e-mailed statement.

The facility had planned export capacity of 35 million tons a year, according to the company’s website.

Glencore fell 3.1 percent to 343.9 pence in London on May 10.

The shares are down 2 percent this year.

Zinc, Nickel

Zinc output was little changed at 386,900 tons while lead production advanced 10 percent to 80,000 tons.

Nickel output increased 4 percent to 25,500 tons.

The company estimates spending on new projects of $29 billion over the next three years, it said this month.

After 2015, spending is expected to “materially decline” to $4 billion to $5 billion, it said.

Expansion of the Katanga and Mutanda copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo is on schedule and due for completion this year.

The group employs about 190,000 people in more than 50 countries across its industrial and trading divisions.

The takeover of Xstrata was completed almost two years after Glencore’s $10 billion initial public offering that ended more than three decades of it operating as a closely-held company.

The Xstrata acquisition will reduce the trading arm’s contribution to earnings to 28 percent from 63 percent, Deutsche Bank AG analysts Rob Clifford and Grant Sporre wrote in a May 2 report.

The copper and coal divisions will be the biggest contributors to profit this year, according to Deutsche Bank.

The performance by the marketing division in the quarter was “broadly in line with our expectations,” Glencore said today. - Bloomberg News