* Q1 iron ore output up 17 pct to 11.7 mln tonnes
* Copper production rises 21 pct to 168,400 tonnes
* Investors likely to focus on Codelco spat, Minas-Rio project
* Platinum division, silicosis claims also on agenda
LONDON, April 19 (Reuters) - Miner Anglo American posted a jump in quarterly production of iron ore and copper ahead of a shareholder meeting on Thursday, where it is likely to face questions about a legal battle with Chile’s Codelco and a key project in Brazil.
Iron ore production, a key plank of the miner’s growth strategy, was up 17 percent to 11.7 million tonnes in the three months to end-March, compared with the same quarter last year when heavy rains in the southern hemisphere hampered output.
On a quarter-by-quarter basis, however, Anglo’s iron ore production dropped 6 percent, in line with similar falls reported by competitors BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto earlier this week.
Bad weather hurt all three miners’ iron ore output. Anglo said there was heavy rainfall at its Sishen mine in South Africa and also blamed a planned removal of waste from the mine.
Production of copper, which accounts for roughly a third of Anglo’s profit, grew 21 percent to 168,400 tonnes, boosted by the expansion of its Los Bronces mine in Chile but offset slightly by stoppages and lower grades at the Collahuasi mine, also in Chile.
Investors at the meeting later on Thursday are expected to focus on Anglo’s high-profile growth project, the $6 billion Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil, where licenses remain a concern, and on a legal battle with Codelco over key assets in Chile.
Shareholders may also quiz Anglo over its future. The company has been repeatedly named as a potential target for Glencore-Xstrata , after the commodities trader and miner complete their merger later this year.
Anglo’s platinum division, which increased output 5 percent in the first quarter due to a lower number of safety stoppages, may also be on the agenda.
“The most obvious near-term catalyst for Anglo’s shares is the outcome of management’s platinum strategic review, but we feel the most likely outcome will be the closure of high-cost shafts rather than a transformatory unbundling,” said Liberum analyst Dominic O’Kane in a note on Thursday, adding that the first-quarter production report was broadly in line with his estimates.
The miner is also likely to address questions over a court proceeding in London brought by a group of former South African miners who claim they suffer from silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, lung diseases associated with dust inhalation, after working in Anglo’s gold mines.
British anti-poverty charity War on Want said on Thursday that one of the 1,200 claimants involved in the case, Daniel Seabata Thakamakau, who has tuberculosis, would attend Anglo’s meeting.
Shares in Anglo traded up 1.6 percent to 2346.5 pence($37.61) at 1121 GMT, slightly ahead of the European mining index, which was 1.4 percent higher.