Chinalco tests workers for coronavirus at Peru's Toromocho mine after confirmed case

LIMA, May 7 (Reuters) - Workers at the Toromocho copper mine in Peru, operated by Chinalco’s Aluminum Corp, were given rapid tests for the novel coronavirus on Thursday after an employee at its processing facility tested positive, the company said.

Chinalco, China’s biggest state-owned aluminum firm and the parent company of Aluminum Corp, confirmed the positive coronavirus case at its Tunshuruco plant in a statement. The company’s local branch said its entire workforce will take rapid tests and those who were in direct contact with the worker who tested positive will quarantine for 14 days in Lima.

The worker who tested positive was transferred to a clinic in Lima and was in stable condition, Chinalco said.

The Toromocho mine, which is in the Junin region of central Peru, had moved to partial operations under a national quarantine called for by the government in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The mine has reserves of 1.52 billion tonnes of ore, according to company data.

Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, has confirmed 54,817 cases of coronavirus and 1,533 deaths.

The general secretary of the Toromocho workers union, Luis Lopez, said that the tests began at the request of workers who halted work on Wednesday afternoon.

“The affected person spent 14 days working at the Tunshuruco plant where some 600 people work. He has had contact with many people,” Luis said by phone, adding that about 1,440 workers are employed at the mine and the Toromocho plant.

Peruvian copper mine Antamina, owned by global miners BHP and Glencore, reported 210 positive cases of coronavirus on April 27. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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