The Antamina copper-zinc mine in Peru has been temporarily suspended to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The mine, which is located in the Andes mountains, is one of the world’s largest copper/zinc mines, producing 101 million tonnes of copper last year.
It has been operating with a reduced workforce under an exemption from the Peruvian government to its coronavirus emergency decree and Antamina’s current shift has been on site since the national state of emergency began four weeks ago.
In a press statement, BHP said the Peruvian government has now allowed Antamina to demobilise the majority of the 2,400 people on site over the coming days and Antamina has suspended operations to do so.
“The site will go into care and maintenance, with a skeleton staff performing essential tasks, including disinfecting the site, to enable the operation to restart when it is deemed appropriate,” BHP stated.
“The current expectation is this could take up to two weeks, however this may change.”
BHP noted that strict controls will be put in place during the demobilisation so as to safeguard the health of the local communities and workers.
Antamina mines is operated independently by Compania Minera Antamina, where BHP and Glencore each have a 33.75 per cent interest, with Teck Resources sharing 22.5 per cent and Mitsubishi Corporation owning the remaining 10 per cent.
Peru is a global mining powerhouse — ranking third in global copper production, second for silver and sixth for gold, and also owns significant reserves of zinc, lead, iron ore and tin. The state of emergency in Peru has been extended to 26 April.