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Peru copper output up 5.42 pct in Feb. from year earlier

LIMA, April 15 (Reuters) - Peru's copper production rose by 5.42 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, the slowest growth rate in two years as the Andean country wrestles with infrastructure damage caused by torrential rains, official data showed on Saturday.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines said in a statement that copper production totaled 178,283 tonnes in February.

Peru's entire mining sector, a key part of the economy, grew just 1.47 percent in February, compared with the 33.59 percent rise reported in February last year, the ministry statement said.

The country has been hit by extraordinarily hard rains this year, which have destroyed thousands of kilometers of roads and caused other damage.

Peru, the world's second biggest copper supplier, produced a record 2.35 million tonnes of the metal in 2016, up 38.4 percent from 2015.

Peru's economy grew 0.74 percent in February versus February 2016, the weakest pace since late 2014 as construction and manufacturing activity contracted while mining slowed.

The government recently revised down its economic growth forecast for this year to 3 percent from a previous 3.8 percent.

The ministry statement said Peru's gold production fell 11.91 percent in February, to 11,676,057 grams, while silver fell 11.29 percent, to 325,925 kilograms.

The following are official mineral output figures for January from the Energy and Mines Ministry: Metal Feb yr/yr pct change Coppe 178,283 +5.42 r Zinc 108,752 +1.92 Gold 11,676, -11.91 057 Silve 325,925 -11.29 r Lead 21,539 -14.00 Iron 667,313 +4.89 Tin 1,253 -15.75 (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Leslie Adler)