February 9, 2012 / 3:23 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Southern Copper delays $1 bln Peru mine opening

* Start of production delayed till 2015

* Q4 net up 9.1 pct

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp, a major global copper producer, posted record annual earnings of more than $2 billion but pushed back the start date for its $1 billion Tia Maria project in Peru until 2015.

The company said last week it was starting a new environmental impact study on the Tia Maria project, which had been expected to start producing 120,000 tonnes of the red metal per year in 2013.

Peru’s then-President Alan Garcia rejected the previous impact study for the project last April after protests by local residents worried about losing control of scarce water supplies in Southern Peru erupted in violence.

In its earnings report, Southern Copper said fourth-quarter net income was $537 million, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier.

Net income for 2011 was an all-time high of $2.34 billion, up 50.3 percent from 2010. The company restored full operations at the Buenavista mine in Mexico in 2011 after several years of crippling labor disputes.

Southern Copper is an affiliate of Grupo Mexico .

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