(For other stories on Chile's quake click on [ID:nN27174408]
* Codelco suspends operations at two mines due to quake
* Two oil refineries damaged, fuel imports to rise
* Mining minister says copper shipments not at risk
(Adds transport for Codelco mines)
By Alonso Soto
SANTIAGO, Feb 27 A powerful earthquake that hit
Chile on Saturday halted production at two oil refineries and
two major mines in the world's top copper supplier, but exports
of the metal will not be affected, officials said.
The 8.8-magnitude quake forced state mining company Codelco
to halt operations at its El Teniente and Andina mines, and
Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez said it could take two days
for production to resume. Other Codelco operations were
Gonzalez said Codelco had enough stocks to be able to meet
its export commitments, and a union leader said the key copper
ports of Antofagasta and Mejillones were operating normally,
although the smaller copper port of San Antonio was closed.
"Export commitments are going to be honored," Gonzalez told
Reuters, adding that Codelco's Caletones smelter had also been
Anglo-American's (AAL.L) Los Bronces and El Soldado mines,
which together produce about 280,000 tonnes of copper annually,
also halted operations, but other major mines were running as
Most of Chile's key mining industry is based in the north
of the country. The quake, which killed at least 147 people,
struck in central Chile, 70 miles (115 km) northeast of the
city of Concepcion.
The earthquake, which tore up highways and bridges, also
damaged two oil refineries run by state oil company ENAP, and
one official said diesel imports were being stepped up to
ensure there were no shortages.
ENAP's Aconcagua and Bio Bio refineries have a combined
refining capacity of about 220,000 barrels a day.
ENAP general manager Rodrigo Azocar said the refineries had
energy supply problems and structural damage that "had together
forced production to be paralyzed."
He added that the company had sufficient gasoline stocks to
last for two weeks and enough diesel for 10 days.
"There won't be any diesel supply problems for two weeks,"
he told a local radio station.
Gonzalez said it was still too early to assess the level of
the damage to Bio Bio, the biggest of ENAP's three oil
refineries, but the situation should be clear on Sunday.
El Teniente and Andina are Codelco's second- and
third-largest mines by production, with combined annual output
last year of 614,000 tonnes.
The mines suffered power outages after the temblor, but
there was no serious damage.
A Codelco spokeswoman played down concerns that copper from
the two mines would not be able to reach exporting ports. She
said most of the damage to infrastructure had been south of the
mines, so transport routes should not be affected.
"The real concern now is energy supply," she added,
referring to power blackouts caused by the tremor.
(Additional reporting by Fabian Cambero and Monica Vargas;
writing by Helen Popper; editing by Todd Eastham)