Antofagasta cuts expected copper output further due to Chile’s protests
Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Plc (LON:ANTO) has cut its production forecast for 2019 as ongoing unrest and riots in the South American country have disrupted supplies to its flagship Los Pelambres mine and resulted in damage to equipment.
The company, which has now resumed normal operations at its four mines in the country, warned last month that protests could cost it about 5,000 tonnes of lost production, less than 3% of its output in the third quarter of the year.
The FTSE 100 company, majority-owned by the Luksic family, one of Chile’s wealthiest, said it expects annual copper production of 750,000 to 770,000 tonnes compared with a prior forecast of 750,000 to 790,000 tonnes, mostly due to supplies delays and travel disruptions for workers.
The revised guidance also includes a loss of about 4,000 tonnes from now ended worker strikes at its Antucoya mine, in northern Chile, which in 2018 produced 72,200 tonnes of copper.
Antofagasta has not been the only mining company affected by ongoing unrest in Chile, the world’s No. 1 producer of copper, used widely in the power, construction and electric vehicles sectors.
Last week, BHP said its Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, was operating at a “reduced rate” after union workers walked off the job for part of the day in solidarity with the anti-government protest movement.
Chile is the fourth South American state to be wracked by civil unrest seemingly triggered by increased government fees and charges, but ultimately fuelled by a gathering sense of economic inequality.
Ecuador’s government was forced in September to retreat from the capital Quito after cuts to fuel subsidies, since then scrapped, immediately doubled prices and set off two weeks of violent protests.
Peru’s capital, Lima, also saw widespread violence following President Martín Vizcarra’s decision to dissolve opposition-controlled congress, accusing lawmakers of trying to obstruct his efforts to end corruption.
The streets of Argentina’s Buenos Aires have also been taken by demonstrators complaining about food shortages, wages and the potential that the debt-crushed nation’s next IMF bailout would require even more drastic economic measures.