Copper output slumps at Codelco, BHP’s Escondida in November – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – January 7, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Copper output slumped at Chile’s state miner Codelco and BHP’s sprawling Escondida mine in November, according to Chile state copper agency Cochilco, amid a turbulent month of riots and mass protests that rocked the mineral-rich South American nation.

Cochilco said output at Codelco, the world’s largest copper miner, plummeted 11% in November over the same month in 2018 to 155,200 tonnes. Production at BHP’s Escondida, the globe’s largest copper mine, fell 1.5% to 103,200 tonnes.

The Collahuasi copper mine in northern Chile, a joint-venture between Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc, nonetheless saw its November production jump 9.7%, to 56,700 tonnes, the agency said.

Cochilco, which tabulates the monthly production data, did not comment on the reasons behind the mixed results. But analysts say the varying output from Chile’s top mines reflects a range of factors affecting the normally volatile sector, from the recent social unrest to small-scale labor disruptions and internal upgrades and maintenance at individual mines.

Gabriel Cestau, an economist at Santander, downplayed the fall in mining activity in November. He blamed the poor results on an unfavorable basis of comparison, a reflection of strong production the previous November.

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