November 25, 2019 / 4:42 PM / 21 days ago

Chile urges copper mining companies to stay calm amid unrest

FILE PHOTO: Copper concentrate is stockpiled in Punta Chungo port that is used to export copper from Antofagasta Minerals' key Los Pelambres Mine, located 220 km (197 miles) north of Santiago July 7, 2010. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile, the world’s top copper producer, reassured jittery mining companies on Monday, saying it would do everything possible to provide a business-friendly environment even as a month of riots across the country have left more than 20 dead and billions in damages.

Chile’s copper mines have mostly maintained production and kept operations running normally in the face of the unrest, with only scattered incidents reported.

But top miners, including Poland’s KGHM Polska Miedz SA, have recently expressed concern about longer-term prospects as the country assesses rewriting its constitution and overhauling tax laws to quell protests. Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica acknowledged their concerns.

“Chile is...resolving these issues through its institutions, and as such, we will do everything possible to give [miners] security and assure them certainty,” Prokurica told Reuters.

Though the worst of the violence has simmered, the Chile protests show little sign of letting up despite measures taken by President Sebastian Pinera.

While most mines are in remote areas, managers and analysts worried that continued unrest could hurt operations that make Chile responsible for around 28% of global production.

To date, however, miners have reported only minimal impacts on operations.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Alistair Bell

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