SMM10, 12 March: according to foreign media reports, Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, is trying to complete the overhaul of Chile's stricter emission standards in a timely manner, or will face a long-term shutdown. The duration of the smelting outage in Chuquicamata operations is unclear. One of the company's main trade unions said on Thursday that the company would stop work for 60 days from December 13, and when the new rules were launched, the San Diego-based company said some of the processes could be suspended for 80 days.
The state-owned company struggled to install equipment while the smelter was operating, the company said by email. As a result, some "processes" may be delayed by about 80 days after mid-December. The company plans to advance maintenance and upgrades to this period later this year.
Juan Benavides, chairman of the Chuquicamata smelter, said on Tuesday that the upgrade of the smelter could be "delayed" by 30 to 60 days and that the company hoped customers could adjust their procurement plans and that the plant could provide more concentrate rather than processed copper.
(International Copper Study Group), an international copper research group, said earlier this month that it expected the market to run a deficit of 90,000 tons this year, more than double the April forecast. Some large producers are postponing investment as trade tensions affect the outlook for global economic growth.
The Chuquicamata smelter, the world's 13th largest smelter, currently produces 1800 tons a day and repairs with maintenance converters will continue until the first day of November, after which capacity will increase to 2400 tons, Codelco said. Codelco's third largest mine produced 137000 tons in the first half of this year, an increase of 18 per cent over the same period last year.
After a meeting with management on October 16th, the unions wanted a clearer understanding of the impact of the shutdown on output, Milla said. According to Chilean news reports, after a series of toxic gas leaks around the industrial city of Quintero in the south, the regional health minister said on September 27 that since the first pollution incident on August 21, more than 1200 people have sought emergency medical treatment.
Operating in this area is Codelco's Ventanas smelter, which has now been fully upgraded to new emission standards, as well as national refineries Enap and Copec SA. In the past month, authorities have accused GNL Quintero,Oxiquim SA,Gasmar SA and Enap of violating environmental regulations.
The text reads as follows:
Codelco is facing an extended stoppage at one of its smelters as the world's largest copper producer struggles to complete an overhaul in time for the start of stricter emission standards in Chile.
The duration of the smelting disruption at the Chuquicamata operation isn't clear. One of the main unions said Thursday that it will be halted for 60 days starting Dec. 13, when the new rules kick in, while the Santiago-based company said some processes may be interrupted for 80 days.
"We're talking about 50-year-old machinery, for which there's no replacements in the market, so our workers have been repairing it themselves for years," Union No. 3 president and smelter coordinator Rolando Milla said by telephone. "The time to invest in the smelter was many years ago and by not doing it they have let it die."
The smelter has been operating at a reduced capacity since mid-September, when the air blower in the thermal-electric sulfur plant broke down, Milla said. Copper futures pared losses as news of a likely stoppage emerged.
The state-owned company is having difficulties installing equipment while the smelter is operating, it said in an emailed response to questions. As a result, some "processes" could experience delays of about 80 days from mid-December, the company said.
Maintenance and upgrading works that were scheduled for later in the year will be brought forward to this period, both the company and Milla said.
Chairman Juan Benavides said Tuesday that there may be "a little delay" of 30 to 60 days in the Chuquicamata smelter upgrade and that the company is asking its customers for "flexibility" to be able to deliver concentrate rather than processed copper.
The market is expected to post a deficit of 90000 metric tons this year, theInternational Copper Study Group said earlier this month, more than double a forecast made in April. Some large producers are delaying investments as trade tensions cloud the outlook for global growth.
The Chuquicamata smelter-the world's 13th largest, according to Bloomberg Intelligence-is operating ata capacity of 1800 tons a day with a converter on maintenance, Codelco said. Repairs will continue through the first days of November, after which capacity will increase to 2400 tons, it said.
Codelco's third-largest mine produced 137000 tons in the first half of the year, 18 percent above the same period last year.
Unions expect to have more clarity about the impact of the stoppage on output after an Oct. 16 meeting with management, Milla said.
Emission standards are in the news in Chile right now following a series oftoxic gas leakages around the industrial town of Quintero, to the south. More than 1200 people have sought emergency medical treatment since the first pollution episode on Aug. 21, the regional healthcare secretary said on Sept. twenty-seven。
Operating in that area is Codelco's Ventanas smelter, which has already been fully upgraded to new emission standards, as well as state oil refiner Enap and Copec SA. In the past month, authorities have charged GNL Quintero, Oxiquim SA, Gasmar SA and Enap for breaching environmental regulations.