Accident at Chilean Copper Port Kills Three, Halts Operations

The Chilean copper port, known as Dona Ines de Collahuasi’s Patache has been shutdown after an accident over the weekend.

Three workers were killed when part of a ship-loader collapsed on December 18.

The shutdown has forced Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc, joint owners of the copper mine shipping out of the port, to declare force majeure. Force majeure is a legal clause issued by companies when they cannot meet contracted deliveries due to reasons beyond their control.

The shutdown is expected to affect the already short supplied copper market, and raise already record high prices even more.

Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc each own 44% of the mine, while a consortium led by Mitsui & Co owns the remainder. The companies are searching for an alternative port to ship from while repairs are made at the Collahuasi port. Repairs could take as long as a month to complete.

The mine, located high in the Andes mountains, is the third largest copper mine in the world, with an average annual output off 535,000 metric tons per year, making up an estimated 3.3% of the worlds mined copper.