Anglo’s Los Bronces mine in Chile to remain shut until safe to resume work

Production at Anglo’s Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile has been halted since Saturday, when masked protesters seized parts of the mine, the second time in a month this has happened. (Image: Anglo American Chile | Twitter)

Anglo American (LON:AAL) has decided to keep all activity at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile halted following a fresh attack by hooded protesters who seized installations over the weekend.

The group “violently and illegally” entered the mine site early Saturday morning, the company said in a statement (in Spanish), just hours after unions representing staff of contractor firms employed at Los Bronces accepted a proposal from their employers.

Los Bronces is Anglo’s biggest operation in Chile, poised to become the world’s No. 5 copper mine at its peak.

Anglo American added the mine “will remain completely halted until the minimum necessary guarantees exist that it can operate safety and without risk to personnel.”

This is the second illegal occupation of the copper operation this month and follows what Anglo called an agreement between companies it uses to provide services at the mine and the Federation of Contract Workers union.

Anglo American noted it was evaluating the impact of this month’s events on production as copper is the firm’s second-largest contributor to profit after iron ore.

Its Chilean division alone — dubbed Anglo American Sur — is expected to produce between 600,000 and 630,000 tonnes of the red metal this year, and Los Bronces is the unit’s biggest mine.

Last year, it produced 437,800 tonnes of the red metal, out of top copper exporter Chile’s total 5.76 million tonnes.

Anglo owns 50.1% of the operation. Chilean state miner Codelco and Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. also have stakes in it.

Los Bronces, perched 3,500 meters high up in the Andes 65km north-east of capital Santiago, is also one of the few Anglo still has in Chile. Last year, the London-listed miner completed the $300 million sale of its 100%-owned Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde copper mines in northern Chile and announced intentions to also sell El Soldado mine and the Chagres smelter.

Anglo's Los Bronces mine in Chile to remain shut until safe to resume work

Image of equipment burnt this weekend. Hooded protesters also took control of Los Bronces on Nov 16, prompting Anglo to halt operations and evacuate 1,500 workers. (Image: Anglo American Chile | Twitter)

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