Almost 3000 Codelco copper workers infected with COVID-19

July 10, 2020 Mining Editor

Almost 3000 copper workers and copper miners at Chile’s State-owned Codelco have been infected with Covid-19 according to a union of workers.

Unions have called on the company for improved safety measures this week in the midst of a growing disaster as production continued in accross its range of assets including mines and processing operations.

While the company had closed its Chuquicamata smelter and shed up to 40% of staff, its’ mines have continued production throughout the pandemic.

Patricio Elgueta, president of the Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), told Reuters this week it had tallied 2,843 Covid-19 infections among workers as of July 5.

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“The company does not give the database to the workers, so we have to rebuild it every day in order to see how [infections] are progressing,” he said.

“They make it seem as though we want to shut down mining, but we only want to protect the lives and health of Codelco workers,” Elgueta said.

The union have labelled Codelco´s management of the crisis “incompetent.”

“It is unacceptable that Codelco’s senior management tries to evade its legal responsibilities to protect … the health and safety of its workers,” the federation said in the statement.

Chile has recorded more than 300,000 cases and upward of 6,500 Covid-19 related deaths.

Chile’s Mines Minister Baldo Prokurica has pleaded with mining companies to protect the health of workers while maintaining output, a balance that had become increasingly difficult as infections spike in the mine-rich nation local news reported.

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