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Chile mining activity, copper production fall in November amid protests

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean mining activity fell 7.1% in November, government data showed on Tuesday, plagued in part by operational issues at major mines during a tumultuous month of protests, road and port blockades and worker strikes in the South American nation.

The world’s top copper producer reported that production of the metal fell 6.7% in November from the same month a year earlier to 504,366 tonnes. Government statistics agency INE noted the fall in mining activity was in part due to an unfavorable basis of comparison, a reflection of strong production the previous November.

Chile’s vast copper mines largely maintained production and kept operations running normally through early November, amid the brunt of unrest, though there have been isolated incidents at some operations and uncertainty lingers.

Chile´s Codelco <COBRE.UL>, the world’s top copper miner, and BHP <BHP.AX>, which owns the sprawling Escondida copper mine, both reported increases in output in October despite riots that threw much of the country into chaos. November production figures for the mines are expected in early January.

But Chile´s Antofagasta <ANTO.L>, another of the world´s top copper miners, warned in November of larger than anticipated impacts on output from the Chile protests.


Chilean manufacturing production <CLMFG=ECI> in November surprised analysts, jumping 3.2 percent compared with the same month the previous year, according to government data, bucking predictions of a sharper drop in output.

The unexpected increase was driven primarily by a year-on-year rise in the production of chemical products, INE said.

Protests in Chile have led to at least 26 deaths and billions in losses to private businesses and public infrastructure. The prolonged demonstrations and sometimes violent riots and looting prompted the central bank last week to slash forecasts for growth, investment and demand through 2020.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood, editing by Louise Heavens and Nick Macfie)

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