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Copper producer Antofagasta warns of bigger hit from Chile protests

Copper producer Antofagasta warns of bigger hit from Chile protests
FILE PHOTO: Copper concentrate is stockpiled in Punta Chungo port that is used to export copper from Antofagasta Minerals' key Los Pelambres Mine, located 220 km (197 miles) north of Santiago July 7, 2010. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero/File Photo -
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Victor Ruiz Caballero(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Copper producer Antofagasta Plc <ANTO.L> on Monday doubled its production cut from Chile to about 10,000 tonnes, pointing to a bigger hit from the workers’ protests, and said its mines in the South American country have resumed operations.

Two weeks ago, Antofagasta said the protests could cut its production for the year by about 5,000 tonnes, equivalent to less than 3% of third quarter output, due to delays in supplies and travel disruptions for workers.

The London-listed miner said it now expects annual copper production of 750,000 to 770,000 tonnes compared with a prior forecast of 750,000 to 790,000 tonnes.

The revised forecast also includes a loss of about 4,000 tonnes from worker strikes at its Antucoya mine that Antofagasta said have ended.

The company has four mines in Chile and employs about 19,000 people. Its flagship mine Los Pelambres is 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Santiago, the capital which has seen anti-government demonstrations, with protesters demanding an end to low wages and high living costs.

“It’s not going to be just Anto. BHP at Escondida have been suffering some one-day strikes…,” Peel Hunt analyst Peter Mallin-Jones said.

BHP and Rio are going to be the most significant than others.”

Last week, BHP <BHP.AX> said its Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, was operating at a “reduced rate” after union workers walked off the job for part of the day in solidarity with the anti-government protest movement.

In its quarterly update last month, Antofagasta said it was in talks with a new supervisors’ union at Antucoya and were expected to conclude by the end of the year.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Zandi Shabalala London; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)

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