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First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has reported an increase in its first-quarter profit compared with a year ago, helped by higher copper prices and lower production costs.

The company posted the increase despite the forced shutdown at its Frontier mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August last year.

The Vancouver-based miner, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said Monday that it earned $206.7-million (U.S.) attributable to shareholders in its latest quarter, up from $150.3-million in the first three months of 2010.

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The earnings amounted to $2.18 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31 compared with $1.69 per diluted share a year ago.

Sales revenue totalled $705.2-million, up from $551.2-million.

Production for the quarter amounted to 74,888 tonnes of copper and 49,146 ounces of gold, compared with 85,062 tonnes of copper and 44,642 ounces of gold a year ago.

First Quantum reported a 21-per-cent increase in copper production from its Kansanshi mine in Zambia and its Guelb Moghrein mine in Mauritania due to mining fleet and plant expansions.

The increase in gold production, the company said, was due to improvements at both mines.

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