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LatinNews Daily - 29 June 2020

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In brief: Chilean copper mine reduces operations

* Chile’s state-owned copper mining company, Codelco, has temporarily shut down its copper smelter, reducing operations to comply with health protocols in the Chuquicamata mine, due to a high concentration of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Antofagasta Region, northern Chile, where the mine is located. The mine will now operate at one-third of its capacity, reducing its staff by around 400 people. On 25 June, the Federación de Trabajadores de Cobre (FTC) miners’ union released a statement confirming the third death of a worker from Covid-19 at the Chuquicamata mine. FTC reported that Codelco had denied that the worker caught the virus at the mine, and criticised the company for “eluding its legal responsibilities” by not safeguarding the health of its workers. Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica said that the mining sector must do whatever is necessary to protect workers’ health, which is the government’s priority, whilst keeping mines open where possible since “mining will be one of the fundamental pillars for reactivating our country and generating opportunities for Chilean families” after the pandemic is over. Prokurica added that the national copper commission, Cochilco, estimates that the pandemic could reduce Chile’s copper production by 200,000 tonnes.