UPDATE 3-Chile mines dodge quake harm, but Collahuasi workers evacuated

Wed Apr 2, 2014 12:37am EDT

* Most mines in Chile designed to withstand tremors

* Collahuasi copper mine reports no problems

* But evacuates some workers to be with families (Changes date in dateline; adds Collahuasi CEO comment)

By Alexandra Ulmer and Fabian Cambero

SANTIAGO, April 2 (Reuters) - Mines in world No. 1 copper producer Chile appear to have emerged unscathed from a major quake that struck near the mineral-rich north of the Andean country on Tuesday.

Most mines in quake-prone Chile, which supplies around a third of the world's copper, are designed to withstand tremors.

The Collahuasi copper mine and port did not report any damage, but some workers were evacuated to be with their families following the 8.2-magnitude earthquake.

"We facilitated the descent of people who wanted to be with their families," mine Chief Executive Officer Jorge Gomez told Reuters in an email. The mine is perched high in mountains.

"The port's operations are completely halted because we had to evacuate everyone, as per the authorities' orders."

A joint venture led by Anglo American and Glencore Xstrata, Collahuasi was one of the big mines closest to the epicenter.

State copper miner Codelco and London-listed Antofagasta both said their mines were functioning normally. Teck Resources said its Quebrada Blanca mine was also fine.

World No.1 copper producer Codelco said it had evacuated workers from its Ventanas smelting and refinery operation due to a government-ordered tsunami evacuation order.

It was unclear whether Chile's ports might be damaged, which would harm metal shipments.

"I would expect the largest danger is to infrastructure, namely ports and roads, which could obviously affect exports," said Morgan Stanley analyst Joel Crane in Melbourne.

Benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) copper prices rose to the highest in three weeks after the quake.

But traders said further gains were likely to be dampened by ample supply and slow demand in China. (Additional reporting by Felipe Iturrieta and Melanie Burton; Editing by Eric Walsh, Michael Urquhart and Joseph Radford)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.