Chile's small-scale miners battling to stay afloat amid copper rout

Like his father before him, Alberto Carrizo has worked in Chile's copper mines since he was a teenager, supporting his family as prices for the metal boomed in recent decades.

But as copper prices have slid to a more than six-year low, Carrizo and his colleagues laboring away at the countless smaller mines that pock mark the Atacama desert are finding the buckets of ore they spend all day digging from the ground are fetching less and less money.

RELATED: Chile losing ground as top copper producer since metal price in the pits

Some are responding by turning to gold mining, others are finding work in growing industries like renewable energy, while a dwindling few are hanging on, hoping prices will yet recover.

They are at the sharp end of a commodities downturn that was triggered by slowing growth in China and which has led half of all the small mining operations in top copper exporter Chile to shut in the last eight years.

Read more at Reuters