Chilean miner Codelco has reduced 30pc of its operations and paused construction at its El Teniente mine to protect its employees from contracting COVID-19.

 

The mining company also implemented new measures to reduce the risk of spread, it said in a Monday statement, adding that it will develop a 14-day-on and a 14-day-off shift schedule at El Teniente, and that it will test miners for the virus three times per shift.

 

A Codelco spokesperson told Davis Index that the challenge is to maintain copper production. The new measures have been designed to halt specific projects but not the entirety of the company’s activities, added the spokesperson.

 

Codelco also announced on Monday that it suspended the construction of all of its mining projects in northern Chile because of the pandemic. The announcement follows the death of a second company employee who contracted COVID-19. Chile has more than 251,000 cases, according to official figures on June 23.

  

Output

 

Codelco expects the El Teniente mine to produce 460,000mt this year, similar to last year’s production. Between January and April 2020, copper production at El Teniente mine increased by 7.3pc to 138,000mt from 128,600mt produced during the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco).

 

Codelco produced 387,000mt of copper in the first quarter of this year, increasing by 4.2pc to 370.900mt from the same period in 2019, according to the latest figures from the Chilean miner.

 

Chile’s copper production is expected to reach 5.87mn mt this year, while production in 2021 is expected to rise on an annual basis by 0.7pc to 5.91mn mt, according to Cochilco.

 

Chile has lowered its price guidance for copper by 45¢/lb to $2.40/lb due to COVID-19’s impact on the national copper industry. 

Copper prices reached $2.67/lb on June 23, increasing by 1.2pc from yesteday, according to data from Cochilco.

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