Recently, 350 supervisors and 3,985 operators and contractors from Codelco were dismissed as a consequence of the sustained drop in copper price, according to officials.

According to a press release issued by the state-owned company, this measure is “within the frame of the efforts made by the company to optimize its performance, thus responding to the effects resulting from the current low copper prices.”

This news was released just one day after the Chilean government announced a capitalization for $600 million. According to the company, this will also allow estimated yearly savings of $48 million.

“These measures are sorrowful and hard to implement, but in view of the current copper price, and keeping in mind the commitments undertaken by the company, we are being forced to take every necessary step to ensure the viability of the corporation,” said Daniel Sierra, Codelco’s human resources vice president.

Depending on the kind of employment relationship, every employee may take any of the different retirement plans set for every division or receive a compensation for termination of contract, the company said.

Two month ago, Nelson Pizarro, CEO of Codelco, claimed the company was under “total and absolute war economy” and that it would “cut costs as much as possible.”

In total, 4,292 people have been fired. According to Pizarro, all these measured have been carried out “without affecting the overall production”.

Codelco Chairman, Oscar Landerretche, said, “the situation might become worse.” The company foresees a 20% downsizing in the budget for work carried out by contractors.

As for the rest of the company investments, Codelco has made some cutbacks on expenditures for exploration and technological innovation, and has delayed the replacement of machineries and noncritical spare parts.

Possibly the only item affected by cutbacks will be Codelco’s proprietary smelting plants, which will need to comply with the new emission standards.

Codelco’s new adjustments take place at a time when the copper price has fallen from a maximum of US$ 4.6 per pound registered at the beginning of 2011.