SMM: Chile's national copper company (Codelco) said on Friday that the Chuquicamata mining union approved a seven-day shift to reduce workers' exposure to the coronavirus outbreak, which intensified in the north of the country.
Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, said in a statement that the measure had been approved by a majority of more than 75 per cent. Although workers in some sectors of the field are already using this approach, this measure has now been extended to all areas.
The Chuquicamata mine is located in an area particularly affected by the coronavirus, producing 385309 tons of copper in 2019. According to the union and the company, three workers at the mine died of new crown pneumonia.
Unions and social groups have put pressure on Codelco and other mining companies to strengthen protection for workers, including a proposal this week to close all mines in the area for two weeks.
Octavio Araneda, chief executive of Codelco, said in an interview with a local newspaper on Thursday that more restrictive measures against the mining industry would have a "catastrophic" impact on the country and that the company's response to the virus had been "proactive".
The company announced last week that it would temporarily close its smelter at the Chuquicamata mine, but continue its mine operations across the country, reducing operating equipment.
In the Chilean copper industry, the hidden cost of maintaining production during the outbreak began to emerge.
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