This sequence of events is becoming less and less mysterious and increasingly more important to a world where development is becoming key to global economic expansion: Ride higher prices and output and lower costs to achieve spectacular results.  

The result is likely to be as it was for Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX), the world's largest publicly held copper producer. And, come to think of it, a similar tactic was employed by the big aluminum producer, Alcoa (NYSE: AA), which led off the current earnings season for the major companies with a fine performance of its own.

For the second quarter of 2011, Freeport recorded net income that climbed to $1.37 billion, or $1.43 a share, compared with $649 million, or $0.70 per share, for the same quarter a year ago. The results for the most recent quarter, which included a $61 million charge for an early debt payback, nevertheless beat the consensus expectation of 16 analysts by fully a dime. Sales for the quarter were half again higher at $5.81 billion than the $3.86 billion for the second quarter of 2010.

Sales volumes from the company's mines for the second quarter reached 1.0 billion pounds of copper, 356,000 ounces of gold, and 21 million pounds of molybdenum. These figures compared with 914 million pounds of copper, 298,000 ounces of gold, and 16 million pounds of molybdenum a year earlier.

But easily more significant than the volumetric increases were the increases in price realizations for copper and gold. The company realized an average price of $4.22 per pound for its copper, fully 38% higher than the $3.06 per pound averaged in 2010. Gold prices were 22% higher at an average of $1,509 per ounce, versus $1,234 an ounce last year. Molybdenum prices were essentially flat at $18.16 per average pound, compared with $18.18 in the comparable quarter of 2010.

The company variously mines copper and gold in the U.S. Southwest, South America, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia's giant Grasberg facility. Mining expansion is currently being conducted or studied at all of these locations.    

CEO Richard Adkerson said during the company's call on Friday that Freeport has entered its third day of pay negotiations with its workers in Indonesia. He admitted that, following a strike that ended on July 13, the company has recorded losses of copper and gold.

Along with Alcoa and Freeport, steel producer Nucor (NYSE: NUE) has recorded solid results for the second quarter. We now await Southern Copper's (NYSE: SCCO) report on Monday, U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) on Tuesday and Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) on Friday. Thus far, however, the second quarter appears to have been a solid one for U.S. metals companies.

As to Freeport, I'm hard-pressed to single out a company that has performed more spectacularly than has the Phoenix-based company since its 2007 purchase of Phelps Dodge. Especially with copper and gold prices remaining strong, why not add this successful company to your Fool-administered, personal version of My Watchlist?

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We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named in this article.  The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.