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UPDATE 2-Grupo Mexico mines open, studies flu shutdown order

(Recasts; adds details)

MEXICO CITY, April 30 (Reuters) - Grupo Mexico will keep all its operating Mexican mines open for now but the copper miner is examining a government order that nonessential companies shut down to stem a deadly swine flu outbreak, a high-ranking company executive said on Thursday.

“We are not shutting down production,” the Grupo Mexico executive said.

He said workers are following strict sanitary guidelines to avoid contagion of a deadly swine flu virus. Miners will sanitize their hands and wear face masks and gloves and the company is following all government guidelines to protect workers from the virus, he said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered government offices and private businesses not crucial to the economy to stop work for five days starting Friday to avoid further infections from the new virus, which has killed up to 176 people in Mexico and is spreading quickly around the world.

Much of Grupo Mexico’s large-scale mining machinery cannot be shut down quickly or easily and the situation will be examined by the company in the coming days, the executive said.

“The idea is to notably reduce human contact and maintain where possible operations. The idea is not to stop the economy but take the necessary measures so there are no infections,” he said.

Grupo Mexico’s administrative offices would be shut or working with a skeleton staff but metals production would continue for now, he said.

Grupo Mexico’s largest copper mine Cananea is shut down due to an ongoing strike. But at its remaining mines, the company produced 119,772 tonnes of copper in the first-quarter of this year as well as 27,038 tonnes of zinc and 4,056 tonnes of molybdenum. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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