UPDATE 2-Chile-¦s Codelco shuts Andina mine as general strike hits operations

Fabian Cambero and Dave Sherwood

(Adds details on private mining operations, paragraphs 8-14)

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.


Several of the world's largest miners, including BHP Group Ltd, Anglo American Plc, Teck Resources Ltd , have operations in Chile, the world's largest copper producer.

Despite the unrest, most mines were operating normally, or with minimal disruptions to date.

Shift workers at BHP's massive Escondida copper mine, the world's largest, walked off the job for several hours yesterday in a show of support for protesters' demands. Any impact on production by the short walk-off was likely to be recuperated in subsequent days, the union told Reuters.

Copper producer Antofagasta Plc said on Wednesday protests in Chile could cut its production by about 5,000 tonnes, equivalent to less than 3% of third quarter output, due to delays in supplies and travel disruptions for workers.

Teck and Anglo American did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said on Wednesday the copper market would see a surplus of 281,000 tonnes in 2020.

"Taking into account such forecasts, the strike in Chile is unlikely to have any significant effect on the copper market," said Anton Berlin, head of marketing at Russia's Norilsk Nickel . (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; additional reporting by Polina Devitt and Dave Sherwood, Writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by David Evans and David Gregorio)