Chilean miner Codelco has temporarily halted the construction of a new level at its El Teniente mine to protect its employees from contracting COVID-19.
The measure will result in a staff reduction to 4,500 people at the mine, Codelco noted in a statement on July 4, adding that the company would continue with its 14-day on and 14-day off schedule to protect miners at El Teniente.
If the suspension of the project is prolonged, the production of copper of El Teniente mine could be affected in the long term, a source at Codelco told Davis Index without disclosing further details on the volumes that could be impacted.
On June 23, Codelco reduced operations by 30pc at the mine to protect its employees from the pandemic. The company also suspended the construction of major mining projects in the northern region of Chile in the past few weeks as COVID-19 cases grew across the country. Chile had more than 299,000 positive cases, according to official estimates on Monday.
El Teniente mine produced 37,700mt of copper in May, down by 1.3pc from 38,200mt in the same month last year, according to the latest data released by the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco). Codelco produced 144,200mt in May, up by 3pc compared the same month the prior year to 140,000mt.
Codelco expects El Teniente’s 2020 output to remain unchanged from last year at 460,000mt.
Chile’s copper production is expected to reach 5.87mn mt this year, while production for 2021 is expected to rise by 0.7pc to 5.91mn mt compared to 2020, 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 $2.7/lb on Monday, July 6, up by 1.49pc compared the prior day, according to data from Cochilco.