Wires

UPDATE 1-Chile-¦s Codelco shuts Andina mine as general strike hits operations

Fabian Cambero

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SANTIAGO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Chile's state miner Codelco, the world's top copper producer, said on Wednesday one of its mines was shut and operations at a smelter drastically reduced amid a general strike as protests and chaos have rocked the South American nation.

Six of Codelco's eight divisions were carrying on with the "majority of their operations," the company said in a statement.

The strike had shut down Codelco's Andina copper mine near Santiago, and had also hobbled its Ventanas copper smelting division, which was operating with a skeleton crew to "ensure the security of its facilities."

The company said its Salvador division was operating "partially."

The Copper Workers Federation (FTC), which includes unionized workers from each of Codelco's divisions, agreed late on Tuesday to join the general, nation-wide strike along with other sectors, including teachers and public employees.

"All of our divisions are taking part in one way or another in this national protest," Juan Olguin, head of the FTC, told Reuters.

At least 15 people have died in protests that started over a hike in public transport costs that prompted arson attacks and looting of businesses and the declaration of a state of emergency by Pinera over a large swath of Chile.

Despite the unrest, copper production from Chile has remained largely unaffected.

Chile, the world's top copper exporter, produces nearly one-third of the world's output of the red metal. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by David Evans and David Gregorio)