UPDATE 1-Antofagasta Minerals to cut workforce as copper price bites

martes 6 de octubre de 2015 14:17 GYT

(Adds detail on job cuts, comment, context)

SANTIAGO Oct 6 (Reuters) - Chilean copper mining company Antofagasta Minerals said on Tuesday it was reducing its workforce by around 7 percent in order to cut costs, the latest victim of the recent rout in the copper market.

Like its peers, Antofagasta, the operational division of London-listed Antofagasta PLC, is battling a slide in commodity prices driven by slowing growth in China, the world's top consumer of industrial metals.

"I regret the effect that this has on committed, efficient staff, but we must confront the new conditions of the copper market and recovery expectations," said the company's Chief Executive Ivan Arriagada.

"We hope not to have to take additional measures, unless the market changes drastically."

The move implies job losses for around 300 people, both mine workers and executives, out of some 4,650, a spokeswoman said.

Copper prices recently hit their lowest level since 2009, and miners globally have been laying off workers and suspending operations.

Family-owned Antofagasta operates the Los Pelambres mine, which produced just over 400,000 tonnes of copper last year out of Chile's total 5.7 million tonnes. It also has smaller operations and is ramping up the new Antucoya project.

But it said in August that it was eyeing some $160 million in savings this year and taking a rigorous approach to cost control.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)