Drought in Chile curbs copper production, to trim global surplus
* Anglo's Los Bronces mine could lose 30,000 T due to drought
* Output down 2 pct at biggest copper mine Escondida
* Driest conditions on record in Jan in some parts of Chile
* Chile copper output: link.reuters.com/wep24w
By Eric Onstad and Rosalba O'Brien
LONDON/SANTIAGO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A drought in Chile is hampering copper production, a water-intensive business, in the world's biggest producer of the metal, one more factor that could trim an expected surplus this year.
Both Anglo American and BHP Billiton have said the extremely dry conditions have hit production due to restrictions on water, used for everything from toilets for workers to separating the metals in the ore body from waste rock and tamping down dust that heavy trucks kick up.
"The one caveat or the risk I think that we need to flag... is Chile is still in drought," Anglo Chief Executive Mark Cutifani told a results presentation last week. "It remains a risk, and in fact it was impacting our operating performance in November and December."
In some parts of Chile, January was one of the driest since records began, exacerbating a drought that began in 2007, said Chilean meteorologist Claudia Villarroel. Winters in central Chile are becoming drier because of climate change, she added. Continuación...