SANTIAGO, April 18 (Reuters) - Chilean state-owned miner Codelco said on Monday that operations at its El Teniente copper mine would likely be suspended until Thursday because of torrential rains over the weekend that triggered landslides and caused rivers to breach their banks.
The heavy rains, which continued on Monday and were expected to move north into the country’s main mining area, have left two people dead, 10 missing and millions without drinking water.
Shopping centers and schools were closed throughout the capital, Santiago, as the swelling Mapocho River made some major highways impassable.
After halting the century-old underground El Teniente mine on Saturday, Codelco had initially said it expected to restart production in at least three days. The mine is located about 80 km (50 miles) south of Santiago.
The world’s No.1 copper producer told Reuters it is losing approximately 1,500 tonnes of copper output and $7.5 million each day the mine is halted.
El Teniente’s mineral transport system, mine access and industrial installations have been affected, the company said.
The El Teniente area received 350 millimeters (13.8 inches) of rain in three days. Its normal annual rainfall is 513 millimeters, Codelco said.
According to Chile’s meteorological service, the storms are headed north toward the Atacama region, home of many of the nation’s biggest copper mines.
Severe flooding in the Atacama in March 2015 destroyed many towns and hit copper output.
Anglo American Plc said on Monday it was normalizing mining activities at its flagship Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile, after previously suspending them for security reasons.
The smaller El Soldado mine, where operations had been suspended, was running normally, it said.
Codelco’s Andina mine, located near Los Bronces, is operating at 65 percent capacity.
Chilean copper miner Antofagasta, meanwhile, said its Los Pelambres mine in north central Chile had so far been unaffected by the storms.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Paul Simao