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Water scarcity caused by severe drought has forced Codelco to reduce copper processing at its El Teniente mine’s Sewell plant.


The company lessened processing at the plant towards the end of May when the drought hit central Chile, and if it persists, the Chilean miner’s copper output will surely be impacted, according to media reports.


A Codelco spokesperson did not disclose to Davis Index how much the company’s production would be affected in the event of a prolonged drought. However, the company anticipates better weather conditions in H2 2020. 


In September 2019, Chile’s government announced the creation of a working group of government agencies, academics, and industry members to fight the country’s worst drought in 60 years. The government declared water shortages in more than 50 communities across three regions of the country last year.




Codelco expects the El Teniente mine to produce 460,000mt in 2020, similar to last year’s production.


Between January and April, copper production at the El Teniente mine increased by 7.3pc to 138,000mt from 128,600mt produced during the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures from the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco).


Chile’s copper mining industry will have to increase seawater consumption by 156pc to feed its mining operations by 2030 because drought conditions may persist, noted Cochilco.



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