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Chilean copper industry halts expansion to slow the spread of coronavirus among miners

MercoPress - Chile's Codelco has halted work on a multibillion-dollar project to extend the life of its El Teniente mine as the copper producer strives to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease through its workforce, the state-owned mining company said.

The temporary measure would allow it to reduce the number of workers and contractors on site by around 4,500, “limiting movement and reducing the possibilities of infection,” the company said.

The new mine level at El Teniente, the world's largest underground copper mine, will extend the life of the operation until the second half of this century.

The mine is Codelco's largest by output, contributing more than a quarter of the 1.7 million tons of copper that the company produced last year.

Demobilization from the Andes Norte, Diamante, Andesita and Recourses Norte sites had already begun in late June, Codelco said. The move follows the suspension of all construction projects at its operations in northern Chile, including the new US$ 5 billion Chuquicamata underground mine.

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