Two copper mines in Chile suspend operations following 8.3 magnitude earthquake

September 17, 2015

The 8.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile killed at least five people and forced Codelco and Antofagasta to suspend operations at two major coal mines.

The closure of the mines, which generate an annual capacity of more than 600,000 tonnes, drove copper prices on the London Metal Exchange to two-month highs in early Asian trading as worries about supply disruptions offset lingering concerns about demand from China amid copper’s longest rout in years, The Telegraph reported.

Workers at Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres operation were safe and installations did not suffer any damage, the company said in an statement. Anglo American and BHP Billiton said their mines were unaffected, as did Pan Pacific Copper.

Codelco, the largest copper-mining company globally, also said its staff and operations were unharmed in the quake that prompted the evacuation of personnel from facilities in coastal areas, including processing plants and ports, amid a tsunami warning.

The earthquake hit 34 miles outside the town of Illapel in the region of Coquimbo, according to the US Geological Survey. At least one person died and nine were injured as adobe structures crumbled in Illapel, while waves measuring as high as 4.5 metres were reported in Coquimbo.

Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone nations in the world. It was hit by an 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010 and in 1960 recorded the largest ever on Earth, according to the Geological Survey.

The nation mined about 5.7 million metric tons of copper last year, 31pc of global output, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics - making it the world's biggest producer of the metal.


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