Strike drags down copper output at world’s top supplier Codelco

(Image courtesy of Codelco via Flickr)

Codelco, the world’s biggest copper supplier, saw quarterly output decline on labor disruptions and as the mining industry deals with the lingering effects of the pandemic.

A 7.6% dip in the Chilean state company’s production from the third quarter of last year offers little relief for a tight global market characterized by low stockpiles. The result follows the release of data showing Chile’s total copper output for September at the lowest since February

Some mines around the world are still catching up on earthworks and maintenance that was postponed last year in a bid to continue output in the pandemic with reduced staffing. In the case of Codelco, given part of the decline was due to strikes at its Andina mine, the implication is that production will bounce back this quarter.

While Codelco didn’t report a quarterly breakdown for production, calculations using previously reported results show July-September output at 389,000 tons.

Higher metal prices offset the production decline, enabling the company to boost sales by 22% to $4.85 billion. That’s good news for a nation seeking funding for policies to counter inequalities after mass protests in late 2019.

Codelco is also stepping up the pace of a multibillion-dollar overhaul of its aging deposits after Chile eased pandemic restrictions.

(By James Attwood, with assistance from Eduardo Thomson)

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