More than 11.4 millimeters of water fell last week in Calama, northern Chile, which is equivalent to two years of rainfall in the area. The water generated flooding, roadblocks and the isolation of hundreds of people who have not been able to leave their homes. The bad weather also paralyzed operations at the Chuquicamata and El Abra divisions of Codelco.
“The operations of each division were suspended for prevention, to protect the safety of people,” said the state, in a press release that was released by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.
Codelco also reported that its workers were sent to their homes until the climatic and working conditions are optimal enough to resume work.
The heavy rains also caused damage to the copper facilities.
“The Chuquicamata division facilities suffered only the alteration of an electrical substation, and the emergency teams are working to normalize the system’s activities,” the company said.
ONEMI (The Chilean National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry) said the precipitation in the northern zone continued until February 9. The rains went from moderate to strong in the foothills and highlands, in the regions of Arica and Parinacota and Tarapacá.
Minera El Abra is still affected by rain in the north of Chile, and the mine is not fully operational yet. The minister of mines recently visited the mine and held meetings with executives from the Chuquicamata division to check the damage and take stock of the current status of the operation.