Chilean copper miner Codelco part-suspends operations amid heavy rain

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean state miner Codelco said on Friday heavy rains had forced suspension of operations at its northern copper mines Chuquicamata and Ministro Hales.

Codelco said it had sent its daytime shift of workers home as a preventative measure and would evaluate whether to cancel its night shift as well.

The world’s biggest copper producer said that operations at its other mines in the area, Radomiro Tomic and Gabriela Mistral, would continue as usual albeit with precautionary measures in place.

Chile’s Interior Ministry declared a red alert overnight in the neighboring provinces of El Loa and Antofagasta after several days of heavy rain and electric storms, which saw three people killed, roads cut off, houses damaged and bridges collapse. The state geological agency has warned of land and rock slides.

Codelco said emergency teams had been deployed to both suspended mines along with management staff to monitor and mitigate any impact caused by the weather.

Codelco also confirmed that a polycarbonate roof had collapsed in an “industrial site” operated by a third-party contractor at Chuquicamata mine, the miner’s second largest by output. It said the collapse had not resulted in any injuries.

Twelve percent of Codelco’s total output came from Ministro Hales in 2017.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky

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