07 September 2009

Chile Mudslide Kills 1 at Anglo Mine, Codelco Not Hit

By Nathan Gill and Matthew Craze
Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A road to Anglo American Plc’s Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile was hit by a mudslide, killing one worker. Mining operations weren’t affected.

Luis Rene Zurita Martel, a 52-year old contract employee at Anglo’s Los Bronces mine was killed today when the mudslide swept away the security patrol building he was in, national emergency office Onemi reported on its Web site. Ten others were injured and access roads to the mine were closed as of 8 a.m. New York time, Onemi shift manager Mauricio Bustos said in an interview on Chilean television.

The mine’s access road probably will reopen later today and light vehicle traffic has already resumed, Anglo American spokesman Marcelo Esquivel said today by telephone from Santiago. The mine is “operating normally,” he said.

Los Bronces is part of Anglo American’s Sur division, which produced 284,000 metric tons of copper last year, according to Chilean copper commission Cochilco. The accident occurred about 30 kilometers from mine operations and was linked to heavy rains this weekend, Anglo American said today in an e-mailed statement.

Operations at Codelco’s Andina copper mine nearby weren’t affected, a company spokesman said today in a telephone interview from Santiago. The company, the world’s largest copper producer, uses a different access road to enter the Andina mine, the spokesman said.

Mudslides

Mudslides yesterday buried houses and killed at least one person on the outskirts of Chile’s capital, television station TVN reported. Police are still searching for a young girl and a road to ski slopes was blocked, delaying motorists from returning to Santiago, TVN reported. Chilean police began escorting down the mountain at 1 p.m. New York time the 1,329 people trapped by the mudslide, Onemi said on its Web site.

Chile’s metropolitan region, including the Los Bronces and Andina mines, has received 35 millimeters (1.4 inches) of rainfall since Sept. 4, Luis Salazar, a shift manager at Chile’s meteorological office, said today by phone from Santiago. This amount of rainfall “isn’t common,” he said. Rains will continue throughout the day, according to the office’s weather forecast.

Chile is the world’s largest copper producer.