Force majeure declared at giant Peru copper mine

Las Bambas copper mine

Australia-based miner MMG Ltd has declared force majeure on copper concentrate supplies from its Las Bambas mine in Peru, four sources told Reuters on Thursday.

MMG, owned by China Minmetals Corp, has notified customers of the force majeure, which is due to a lockdown in the South American country as it looks to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, said the sources, three of whom are with major Chinese smelters.

An MMG spokesperson had no immediate comment on the force majeure.

Companies invoke force majeure when they cannot meet their contractual obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.

Las Bambas is one of the world’s biggest copper mines and produced 382,518 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2019, according to MMG’s annual results announcement.

The fourth source, an executive at Minmetals who declined to be named, told Reuters transportation was a problem after Peru, the world’s second-biggest copper producer, extended its state of emergency by two weeks to April 26. A Minmetals spokesman referred questions to MMG.

Last month, MMG said it had reduced operations at Las Bambas and that transportation of copper concentrate would be significantly restricted after the initial state of emergency was imposed.

(By Tom Daly, Melanie Burton, Mai Nguyen and Shivani Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Merriman)

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