Chile mining production increases 2.9% despite pandemic

Chile’s mining production grew 2.9 percent over the last year despite the country’s economy being ravaged by coronavirus pandemic lockdown, the statistics institute said on Friday.

Mining was one of the few sectors that remained operational throughout four months of lockdown measures.

The figures were boosted by a 2.8 percent increase in the extraction and processing of copper.

Chile is the largest producer of copper in the world with annual production of 5.6 metric tons — around a third of global production.

Copper accounts for half of Chile’s exports and 10-15 percent of its GDP.

The copper industry continued to operate in Chile despite a soaring number of coronavirus cases which now stands at more than 350,000, alongside 13,000 deaths.

In order to cope with the pandemic, the 200 mining companies operated 14-day work shifts while also temporarily suspending the contracts of 32,000 employees.

Some 90 percent of expansion and modernization projects were also suspended, according to the mining ministry.

State-owned Codelco, which produces almost 11 percent of the world’s copper, said its first semester profits had risen 20 percent to $380 million.