Monday, 1 March 2010

Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Chile

Having seen or heard no news for the past couple of days, while travelling to and registering at the SME, I was shocked to hear last night of the major earthquake in Chile.

The Times Online reports this morning that the death toll has risen to over 700. The Financial Times reports that, devastating as it was, casualties and infrastructure damage have been lighter than would have been expected from the magnitude of the quake, due largely to the country's sophisticated infrastructure, as well as the geographical location of the quake.

Chile's top copper mines also managed to escape much damage because of such factors, though the commodity market still reacted to the earthquake with precautionary buying of the metal, and the price is likely to rise over the next few days.

The earthquake did hit several medium-sized mines in Central Chile. Codelco, the state-owned company, halted production at its El Teniente and Andina mines, while Anglo American stopped activity at Los Bronces and El Soldado. Codelco says that they are expecting to resume production after minimal damage, while Anglo American said that it was waiting for electricity to be restored following the quake. The combined production of these four mines equals about 20% of the country's regular production.

But it is people that matter.  I contacted Juan Yianatos last night, who is Professor at Santa Maria University in Valparaiso, near Santiago.  Thankfully he and his family are fine. He also advised that the people at El Teniente, El Soldado and Los Bronces are safe. That at least is good news and our thoughts are with our many friends and colleagues in Chile.

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