Miners: Cu ops unscathed after quake hits region II

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Copper operations in northern Chile's region II reestablished activities with no damage or injuries reported after an earthquake shook the area and temporarily cut electric power supply on Wednesday (Nov 14).

State-owned copper company Codelco reported that its Codelco Norte division in region II had returned to normal operations by 2am local time Thursday.

The earthquake, which occurred at 12:43pm Wednesday, did not damage equipment or injure personnel, the company reported in a statement.

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Meanwhile, Canadian Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX) said in a statement that the seismic movement only caused a minimal disruption to activities at its Zaldívar copper mine.

US company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) reported its Candelaria mine restarted operations after power returned at 2pm the day of the quake. Its El Abra mine restarted at 10pm that day, a company spokesperson said.

The company also specified that it did not suffer damage or injuries from the earthquake.

Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) reported its 57.5% owned Escondida mine was stopped temporarily and so were its fully owned Spence and Cerro Colorado mines, but that none sustained damage or had workers injured.

BHP Billiton said in a statement Thursday that Cerro Colorado and Spence had returned to normal and that Escondida was gradually ramping back up to regular output levels.

The Los Pelambres mine in region III was not affected by the natural disaster, a source with the mine's controller Antofagasta plc (LSE: ANTO) told BNamericas.

The quake caused the temporary disruption of the entire northern electric power grid, SING. Its epicenter was the town of Quillagua in region II, where it registered 7.7 on the Richter scale.

The government has reported two fatalities so far, with many more injured.