July 8, 2011 / 4:10 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chile copper mines brace for more bad weather

* Collahuasi under contingency plan on bad weather

* Escondida mine extraction still down on rain-union

* Codelco mines operate normally despite scattered rains (Rewrites, adds details on Escondida and Codelco)

SANTIAGO, July 8 (Reuters) - Two of the world’s top copper mines on Friday braced for more bad weather in Chile’s copper-rich north, halting some operations or working under a contingency plan, executives and union leaders said.

The world’s No. 3 copper mine Collahuasi will work under a contingency plan on Friday and over the weekend after heavy snow hit operations earlier this week, the mine operator spokeswoman Bernardita Fernandez said in an e-mail statement.

She said the deposit was still normalizing operations.

The rare five-day cold snap hitting an area that produces about 20 percent of the world’s mined copper is expected to intensify on Friday before it dissipates over the weekend, weather forecasters said.

Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, halted extraction operations for a second day after heavy rains made the roads in the open-pit deposit dangerously slippery, union leader Luis Valdes told Reuters.

Still, the 1 million tonne-per-year mine, majority owned by BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L), was able to process mineral at its plants, Valdes said.

Codelco’s copper massive operations, Chuquicamata and Radomiro Tomic, which produce together about 900,000 tonnes last year, were operating normally despite some scattered rains, company officials said.

Weather problems in Chile and the planned 24-hour strike by workers at Codelco have helped lift copper prices in London CMCU3 to over three-month highs this week.

Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by John Picinich and Lisa Shumaker

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