Boliden reported a first quarter operating profit of SEK 1,102 million ($131 million). Favorable market conditions and increased production at the Garpenberg mine resulted in a strong year-on-year improvement in profits.

“Consistent investments in mines and smelters producing zinc, copper and precious metals give Boliden a good position in today’s challenging market conditions,” said Lennart Evrell, president and CEO, Boliden. “The main beneficiaries of improved conditions at the moment are Boliden’s smelters, and the mines have not achieved the same positive performance. In spite of a slight fall in production from the levels reported in the strong fourth quarter of 2014, we still posted healthy profits.”

Boliden Mines’ profits improved substantially year-on-year and were also slightly higher than those for the preceding quarter. The ramping up at Garpenberg is proceeding according to plan and the annual production rate for both milled tonnage volumes and ore production is expected to reach 2.5 million metric tons (mt) by year-end.

The Aitik mine was affected by maintenance work and, as in most winters, reduced equipment availability in the open-pit mine. Aitik’s milled tonnage volume for 2015 is expected to total 40 million mt.

Boliden Smelters’ profits also improved significantly year-on-year, and were on a par with those posted for the preceding quarter. A stronger U.S. dollar, coupled with higher treatment charges and metal premiums, more than compensated for lower metal prices. Disruptions to processes at the Kokkola zinc smelter and the Rönnskär copper smelter resulted in a fall in feeds from the high production levels in the previous quarter.

Boliden anticipates an investment level of just over SEK 4 billion ($476 million) for 2015 and slightly below SEK 4 billion for 2016, after several intensive years of major expansion projects.

“Our primary focus will continue to be on maintaining competitive mines and smelters, with stable production levels, good cost control and good safety and environmental performance. We will continue to invest in organic growth through the further expansion of the Aitik mine to 45 million mt of copper ore per year and the Odda zinc smelter to 200,000 mt of zinc per year. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2017,” said Evrell.