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Antofagasta quarterly output hit by Chile protests, labour strike

(Adds details on Chile protests, outlook)

Jan 22 (Reuters) – Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc on Wednesday reported a 5.8% drop in fourth-quarter copper production, plagued by supply and transportation disruptions because of civil unrest in Chile that started in October last year.

The copper miner said production of the red metal fell to 185.5 kilotonnes (kt) in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 197 kt in the previous quarter.

Output in the fourth quarter was hurt by a series of issues ranging from disruption of fuel deliveries to its flagship Los Pelambres mine, planned lower grades, maintenance at Centinela mine and a labour strike at Antucoya project, Antofagasta said.

The Los Pelambres mine is located about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Santiago, the capital which was gripped with anti-government demonstrations last year. The mine accounts for nearly half of the company’s total copper output.

Chile is the world’s largest copper producer, while China is the top consumer of the metal.

Antofagasta, which operates four mines in Chile, narrowed its annual production targets in November following civil protests in the South American nation against the government for guaranteed minimum wage and a hike in the state pension.

In November, the company said the worker strike at its small Antucoya deposit ended, and the dispute would impact 2019 output with a loss of about 4,000 tonnes.

Full-year copper output of Antofagasta, one of the world’s top copper producers, however, came in at 770 kt – up 6.2% from a year earlier. The company backed its 2020 output target of between 725 kt-755 kt tonnes.

(Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)


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