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Chilean mines returning to normal

At work in the pit
at Codelco’s Andina
copper mine
Santiago, Chile — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 March 2010 – Mines in quake-hit Chile are returning to normal as power resumes at affected sites, easing investor worries about copper supply disruptions and reversing a spike in prices.

Chile’s Codelco “’ the world’s top copper miner “’ said all operations at its major Andina copper mine would be back online by last night, after the massive 8.8-magnitude quake that killed more than 700 people briefly shut the mine.

Andina “’ which produces 210 000 tonnes of copper annually and is located about 50 km outside Santiago “’ will soon be operating at full capacity, but it will take time to reach normal output, a company spokesman said.

Miner Antofagasta also said it was receiving regular electricity at its mines.

Most of Chile’s major mines are located in the north of the country, and so avoided the brunt of the quake that hit south of Santiago.

As news from mines showed disruptions could be temporary, copper prices that spiked after the quake began to backtrack.

Benchmark copper CMCU3 on the London Metal Exchange was trading at US$7 332 a tonne at compared with US$7 400 at the close on Monday when the metal hit $7 600 a tonne, the highest since 20 January.

“Most mining locations are going to be fully operational again within a few weeks, so as horrific as the earthquake has been for the Chilean people, the mining sector has largely been spared,” said Mike Frawley, global head of metals with Newedge Financial Inc in New York. He added that Chile had enough inventory to meet demand.

Chile produces about 35% of global mined copper, and countries such as China, India and Japan rely on copper concentrate from it to keep their smelters going.