Chile quake halts refineries, copper mines

Source : http://www.reuters.com

February 27, 2010 - SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A powerful earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday halted production at two oil refineries and two major mines in the world's top copper supplier, but exports of the metal will not be affected, officials said.

The 8.8-magnitude quake forced state mining company Codelco to halt operations at its El Teniente and Andina mines, and Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez said it could take two days for production to resume. Other Codelco operations were unaffected.

Gonzalez said Codelco had enough stocks to be able to meet its export commitments, and a union leader said the key copper ports of Antofagasta and Mejillones were operating normally, although the smaller copper port of San Antonio was closed.

"Export commitments are going to be honored," Gonzalez told Reuters, adding that Codelco's Caletones smelter had also been halted.

Anglo-American's (AAL.L) Los Bronces and El Soldado mines, which together produce about 280,000 metric tones of copper annually, also halted operations, but other major mines were running as usual.

Most of Chile's key mining industry is based in the north of the country. The quake, which killed at least 147 people, struck in central Chile, 70 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion.

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