Metals News
Chile's San Antonio Port Returns to 80% Capacity (Update1)
industry news
Mar 4,2010

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- The central Chilean port of San Antonio said it returned to 80 percent capacity while Valparaiso port is operating normally after both closed Feb. 27 when the biggest earthquake in 50 years shook south-central Chile.

San Antonio continues to run tests, according to an official at operator Empresa Portuaria San Antonio, who has direct knowledge of the matter and declined to be named. The official spoke in an interview at the San Antonio port.

Ships bringing in grains are being given priority over incoming and outgoing vessels, the official said today. State copper producer Codelco said it hasn't resumed sending copper to the port from its El Teniente mine.

The temblor, among the six largest ever, killed more than 800 people and flattened homes near the epicenter off the coast of southern Chile. Since then, aftershocks have shaken the country as the military seeks to control looting and bring aid to areas still without water and electricity.

The Valparaiso port, 61 kilometers (38 miles) north of San Antonio, is operating normally, said Raul Maturana, a spokesman for the Federation of Port Workers Union. Ports in southern Chile, closer to the 8.8 magnitude earthquake's epicenter, remain closed.

"Port activities are recovering," Public Works Minister Sergio Bitar said today, according to a copy of his comments distributed by the ministry.

Codelco Resumes Output

Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, returned to full output after the earthquake knocked out power to two mines supplying more than one third of its production, an official briefed on the mines in central Chile said in a telephone interview from Santiago. Codelco hasn't started shipping copper to San Antonio, the official said.

Chile, one of the world's most earthquake-prone nations, also is the world's largest supplier of copper.

Copper futures for May delivery climbed 3.45 cents, or 1 percent, to $3.446 a pound at 12:06 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex unit. The most-active contract gained 6.3 percent in the previous three sessions, partly on speculation that an earthquake in Chile would disrupt mining.

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