SMM7, March 5: Chilean national copper company Codelco said on Saturday that it would temporarily suspend the upgrading of its El Teniente mine, declaring that the move was necessary to deal with the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, said in a statement that the measure would reduce the total number of employees in Teniente-related operations to 4500 and that the mine would continue to protect workers with the previously announced 14-day shift system.
"the measure was implemented over the weekend, adding that the aim is to reduce staff density and mobility, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection," Codelco said.
The decision came as (FTC), a copper workers union delegation from the Codelco union, announced that another El Teniente employee had died of COVID-19, the sixth death from a new crown infection in the company's operations. The union says at least 2300 Codelco workers have been infected with the new crown virus since the outbreak in mid-March.
The company said it would continue to prepare for the Teniente expansion plan despite setbacks. Construction is expected to peak in 2021 and 2022, the statement said.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has put Codelco in trouble in a 10-year, $40 billion plan to upgrade its aging mines. The El Teniente project will extend the life of a century-old mine in the Andes, south of the capital, Santiago. El Teniente produces 459744 tons of copper in 2019.
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