Heavy rains and snow in Chile’s Antofagasta region, led the country’s emergency services to trigger its highest ‘red alert’ warning for the Atacama desert area on June 6, 2017. This is the worst snow storm since 1950 in the region.
Around 15,000 people have lost power and many copper mines had to close down. Chile is the largest copper producing nation in the world and most of its reserve are in the Atacama desert, the driest non-polar desert on earth.
Operations at some of the world’s largest copper mines, including Escondida and Codelco were disrupted due to heavy rains, snow and winds in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
State-owned Chilean copper company Codelco has restarted operations at mines in Chuquicamata, Radomiro Tomic and Minister Hales after a rain storm caused a series of precautionary closures.
— ALMA Observatory (@almaobs) June 7, 2017
Other mines in the area, owned by Antofagasta, BHP Billiton, and Poland’s KGHM, also reported disruptions.
Antofagasta operations in Zaldívar were completely disrupted due to heavy snowfall.
BHP Billiton’s Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, said it was snowing and all operations had been suspended.
Gabriela Mistral of Codelco operates with restrictions. Glencore Plc’s operations in the region, Lomas Bayas and Altonorte, were also affected by the weather.
Another example that unprecedented weather anomalies can put our economy on standby.