Chile copper output costs plunged in first half even as pandemic raged - government

SANTIAGO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Chile’s copper mining industry, the world’s largest, saw a 17% drop in its production costs in the first half of 2020, the mining ministry said on Thursday, even as the coronavirus outbreak was sweeping through the South American country.

Cash costs fell from $1.45 per pound in the first six months of 2019 to $1.21 per pound of copper produced during the same period in 2020, the ministry said in a statement.

A strengthening dollar against the peso, as well as falling prices of key ingredients in the processing of copper, including sulfuric acid and diesel, contributed to the drop in costs, a report from Chilean copper agency Cochilco, cited by the ministry, said.

The analysis assessed mines that account for 92% of Chile’s copper production, and largely overlapped with the height of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Chile´s sprawling copper deposits remained open through the peak of the outbreak, albeit with reduced staff and beefed up sanitary measures, and they largely maintained output even at the peak of the epidemic.

The world’s top copper producing country is home to miners BHP, Anglo-American and Antofagasta and the state-run Codelco. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood. Editing by Jane Merriman)