SANTIAGO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The recent slump in the copper price could affect the margins of Chilean copper miner Antofagasta, its mining chief executive said in an interview published in a Chilean newspaper on Monday.
Fears of weaker global economic growth amplified by a recent fall in the oil price led copper to slide to a more than five-year low last week.
That drop "has been compensated for in part by the lower cost of fuel and other key supplies, as well as the exchange rate effect, but clearly it is not sufficient and the margins of the group could decrease," Diego Hernandez told Diario Financiero in an interview.
Chile imports almost all the fuel it uses, making it a significant beneficiary of the oil price slide. At the same time, the peso has weakened against the U.S. dollar, down 13 percent last year, boosting exporters.
Hernandez, who takes over as Antofagasta's group CEO next month, said he did not expect the copper price fall to be sustained as that would provoke a cut in production in the market and subsequent deficit that would then boost prices.
"In any case, we are prepared in case the crisis is extended and deepened," he said, adding that the company was studying "additional measures" should the market continue to deteriorate.
The FTSE100-listed miner controlled by the Luksic family is due to begin production at the $1.9 billion Antucoya project in Chile this year. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero and Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by James Dalgleish)