March 22, 2017 / 8:53 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Votorantim says it has halted zinc smelting in Peru amid floods

(Adds comments from deputy mines minister, miners)

LIMA, March 22 (Reuters) - Brazilian group Votorantim has halted operations at its zinc smelter Cajamarquilla in Peru after floods and mudslides disrupted transport and restricted the availability of running water in the Andean country.

The company said in an email that the halt was a precautionary measure and it was carrying out maintenance work to restart operations as soon as weather conditions allow.

Deadly downpours in recent weeks have led to floods and mudslides in the world’s second-largest copper producer and third-biggest zinc producer, damaging a railway used to send concentrates to port.

Zinc, copper and lead miners Milpo and Volcan have declared force majeure, citing the extreme weather, and the country is bracing for another month of flooding after a sudden warming of Pacific waters.

The Cajamarquilla smelter, which processed about 340,000 tonnes of zinc in 2016, stopped operating on Friday due to damage in the area where it is located on the outskirts of Lima, said Deputy Mines Minister Ricardo Labo.

Peruvian miner Buenaventura has been stockpiling zinc concentrates at its polymetallic mine Brocal in the central Andes instead of sending them to port while it waits for the railway to be repaired, the company’s chief financial officer Carlos Galvez told Reuters.

Brocal can keep building up its concentrates for another 15 days without having to curb output, Galvez said.

Tin miner Minsur and Peruvian copper and zinc miner Antamina, controlled by BHP Billiton and Glencore, have said their operations have not been affected. (Reporting by Mitra Taj and Teresa Cespedes; Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Pullin)

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