SMM: Chile's mining minister said on Tuesday that there was no "panacea" to help the mining industry tide over the new crown pneumonia crisis, but stressed that the world's largest copper producer put the health of miners first, avoiding the spread of the epidemic and increasing the impact on mining operations.
The Chilean copper industry maintains an infection rate of just 2 per cent through strict testing procedures and home quarantine requirements for more than half of the miners, Baldo Prokurica said.
"if a company does not take care of its employees, then someone is sick and the business will not be able to operate," he said in an interview. If the output is put in the first place, the enterprise will certainly require all the staff to be on duty. "
Neighboring Peru, the world's second-largest copper producer, chose to shut down all industries for 100 days, but the number of confirmed cases remained the fifth in the world. While Uruguay maintained normal production activities, there were only 29 new crown deaths.
Large copper miners, including Chile's national copper company (Codelco), BHP Billiton (BHP Group Ltd) and Anglo American (Anglo American Plc), have been maintaining production or even boosting production. But with the recent surge in the number of newly diagnosed crowns and at least 10 new deaths, miners have adjusted their shifts and suspended upgrading projects and refinery operations.
Some trade unions and local leaders have called for a total suspension of production in the areas hardest hit by the Xinguan epidemic. Prokurica said it did not rule out any possibility.
"there is no panacea for these things. No one in the world knows what will happen in the future. If you take the liberty of expressing your opinion, to tell the truth is likely to turn out to be wrong in the end. "
The Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) expects copper production to fall by 20-240000 tons in 2020. Prokurica said the premise of this prediction is that the number of infections must start to decline.
"it all depends on how the epidemic develops," he said. "if the number of confirmed cases increases, the situation will be more serious in the future."
It added that Tuesday's copper price of $2.77 a pound is a more accurate reflection of supply and demand in the market. The move comes after months of trade disputes between China and the United States and the collapse in crude oil prices distorted copper supply and demand.
"one thing after another, it also means that the market is stabilizing." He said. "We think the situation is positive and copper prices will remain so, because in any case, production will not rise."
Prokurica stressed last month the importance of maintaining a balance between non-stop work and ensuring the health of workers.
Recently, (FTC), the Chilean copper workers' federation, accused the government of putting copper production higher than workers' health. Prokurica responded that it was not good for mining companies to put skilled workers at risk.
"whether it is President Sebastian Pi?era, as Minister of Mining, and the mining companies and workers, it is clear that the first priority is the safety and health of the workers. Nothing is more important than health. "
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