UPDATE 1-Anglo to suspend copper mining at El Soldado in Chile

(Adds Anglo comment, background)

SANTIAGO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Anglo American PLC will temporarily suspend operations at its El Soldado copper mine in Chile after failing to receive regulatory approval for a redesign that would have helped keep output flowing, the company said on Friday.

Chilean mining regulator Sernageomin has rejected the permit request for the redesign, Anglo said, confirming a Reuters story from Thursday.

“The company has as a result decided to immediately and temporarily suspend mine operations, while it analyses in detail the report issued by the institution and decides on the next steps in respect of the future of said operation,” Anglo said in a statement.

Options could include appealing or coming up with a new plan, it added.

The mine’s output - it produced around 36,000 tonnes of copper in 2015 - is small by the standards of Chile, the world’s top copper producer.

But the stoppage could impact the market at a time when the two biggest copper mines, Escondida in Chile and Grasberg in Indonesia, have both declared force majeure after production ground to a halt.

El Soldado is part of the Anglo American Sur complex, in which state-run Codelco and Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi also hold stakes.

It has lost money in recent years and has been following an aggressive savings plan against a backdrop of falling copper prices. It said last year that the mine’s long-term viability was at risk under current market conditions and laid off 10 percent of the workforce.

Sernageomin did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Luc Cohen and Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)