Chilean Copper Mines Slowly Resume Operations


"Copper jumped to its highest level in five weeks on the LME early this morning."

Chile's largest mines are apparently undamaged, but the potential for disruptions on deliveries from the mine and interruption of power suppliesócaused by a massive earthquake that killed more than 700 people and displaced two millionóappeared to already impact copper prices early today.

Copper jumped to its highest level in five weeks on the LME early this morning.

Copper for three-month delivery surged as much as 5.6% to $7,600 a tonne, the highest price since January 20th. The contract traded at $7,462 a ton at 11:44 a.m. Monday in Shanghai.

Despite the earthquake, the world's largest copper producer, state-owned Codelco, said it will meet its supply contracts.

The company had closed its El Teniente complex and Andina mine due to power outages, while Anglo American shut its Los Bronces and El Soldado mines. However, Codelco said El Teniente had resumed operations and Andina operations were expected to resume late Sunday.

Suspension of production at these four major mines could have impacted about 20% of Chile's copper production.

Codelco's Caletones smelter was also expected to resume operations Sunday.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold said that while the quake did not damage its mines, the power failure at its Candelaria mine would result in a temporary shutdown.

Damages to bridges, roads and ports are still being assessed as of Mineweb's deadline early Monday morning. If the infrastructure damage were severe enough, it may interfere with the ability of copper producers to transport metal to the market.

It might also slow the pace of Chilean exports of which half are believed to be copper.

However, Standard Bank said in a note Monday that "apart from mine production of copper, copper exports from Chile look to be largely unaffected."

Meanwhile, mines in northern Chile appear to be operating normally.

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