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Brazil & Southern Cone - July 2020

Economic Highlights

CHILE| Problems in the mining industry. Despite hopes that Chile’s copper industry will contribute to the country’s economic recovery [EB-20-06], there are signs that the mining industry as a whole is suffering from the crisis caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. On 26 June, the state-owned copper mining company, Codelco, announced that it was temporarily closing the copper smelter at the Chuquicamata mine in Antofagasta Region, now operating at a third of its capacity due to a high concentration of coronavirus cases. Then on 6 July, Chile’s national mining association (Sonami) released a report revealing that employment in the mining sector fell by 15% in March-May 2020 compared with the previous year, with the loss of 35,500 jobs. With strict quarantine measures still in place in parts of the country, Sonami expects the situation to deteriorate further. The Sonami report does note, however, that the overall drop in employment across all sectors is more significant, at 16.5%. Unemployment figures released by the national statistics institute (INE) on 30 June put the national unemployment rate in March-May 2020 at 11.2%. This figure rises to 13.4% in Antofagasta Region, one of the mining regions in the north of the country.  

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