World's largest underground copper mine remains shut on heavy rains, mudslides

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s No.1 copper producer, said Monday that its El Teniente mine will remain closed until at least Thursday, following torrential rains that hit the central part of the country over the weekend, causing major damages and leaving an estimated 4 million people without drinking water.

Codelco warned that for each day the mine remains inactive, it loses about 1,500 tonnes of copper output, as El Teniente is the world's largest underground copper mine and the sixth biggest by reserve size.

Codelco loses about 1,500 tonnes of copper output for each day El Teniente mine remains inactive.

In total, Codelco estimates it will lose around 5,000 tonnes of the red metal due to the suspension of mining activities, local newspaper El Mercurio reports (in Spanish).

The situation could get even worse, as the state emergency agency, Onemi, issued Monday an early alert for the Atacama region, the heart of Chile’s copper industry, which is expected to also get heavy rain and winds of at least 100k/h.

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Last year, a similarly unusual weather event forced miners operating in Chile’s north to halt operations, which affected financial results of the already battered firms, which have been struggling with low copper prices.

Mining companies in Chile axed some 23,000 jobs last year alone, or about 10% of positions in the sector. Codelco carried the weight, becoming the mining company that has chopped the highest amount of positions in the South American nation since metal prices began their decline over a year ago.

World's largest underground copper mine remains shut on heavy rains, mudslides

Builder Sacyr SA and the highway operator Costanera Norte SA are being probed by Chilean authorities after road works conducted by the two companies diverted torrential rains into a business neighbourhood of Santiago, flooding shops and restaurants. (Image provided)