HomeBase MetalsChile earthquake shuts copper mines

Chile earthquake shuts copper mines

San Antonio copper
export port “’ shut
down by earthquake
in Chile
Santiago, Chile — MININGREVIEW.COM — 01 March 2010 – Chilean copper mines accounting for about 16% of the nation’s output have remained closed for a second day in the wake of a magnitude-8.8 earthquake which cut electricity to the plants and damaged installations.

Codelco “’ the world’s biggest copper producer “’ said its Andina mine had suffered power losses and installations had been damaged by a five-ton boulder. The mine could reopen in the coming hours, according to a spokesman for the state-owned producer, who declined to be quoted. El Teniente, the world’s biggest underground copper mine, also remained closed.

More than 50 aftershocks followed the pre-dawn quake, which was stronger than last month’s temblor in Haiti that killed 300 000. Disruptions to copper mines in Chile “’ the world’s largest producer “’ may cause prices to rise when markets open, according to Macquarie Group Limited analyst Jim Lennon.

“We see copper as the tightest of the base metal markets,” Lennon said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from London. “Even if it’s just 1% of global supply that is affected, it would be significant.”

The central Chilean ports of San Antonio and Valparaiso remain closed the earthquake, TVN reported, without saying where it got the information.

Anglo American Plc said yesterday its Los Bronces and El Soldado mines in Chile had stopped operating for the same reason. The two mines produce about 280 000 tons annually. Anglo spokesman James Wyatt-Tilby didn’t immediately return calls or e-mails from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Codelco’s mines in northern Chile, including Chuquicamata, are operating normally, said a spokesman. “There are no reports of injuries to workers or damage,” he said.

Copper mines in northern Chile operated by BHP Billiton Limited weren’t affected by the earthquake, said company spokesman Mauro Valdes.

Rio Tinto Group “’ a shareholder in the world’s largest copper mine Escondida, located in northern Chile and owned by BHP Billiton “’  also had no reports of damage, London-based spokeswoman Christina Mills said by telephone.