Glencore says work halted at its largest Peru mine

LIMA, March 30 (Reuters) - Glencore [GLEN.UL] has suspended operations at Iscaycruz, its largest lead and zinc mine in Peru, because of plummeting global prices, a company official said on Monday.

Besides Iscaycruz, the privately held Swiss commodities firm operates two other Peruvian mines -- Rosaura and Yauliyacu.

The company stopped work at Rosaura, the smallest of the three mines, late last year because of falling metals prices. Yauliyacu is functioning as normal.

“Since the first of March, operations at Iscaycruz have been suspended,” Othmar Rabitsch told Reuters. “Current prices ... do not justify continuing operations.”

Prices for zinc MZN3 are down some 40 percent from this time last year.

Zinc miners from Belgium to China are scaling back, and in some cases closing mines, to cope with commodity fallout from the global economic crisis.

Iscaycruz, which last year produced 175,184 tonnes of zinc and 13,710 tonnes of lead, is responsible for roughly half of Glencore’s total Peruvian production, Rabitsch said.

“We are hopeful international prices will improve and allow us to restart operations,” he said.

Glencore’s mines account for some 14 percent of zinc output in Peru, which is the world’s second-largest zinc producer. (Reporting by Dana Ford; Editing by Christian Wiessner)