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Minister of Mining values Codelco’s COVID-19 standards

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Global Mining Review,

The Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica, accompanied by the Executive President of Codelco, Octavio Araneda, inspected the implementation of the COVID-19 measures in El Teniente Division, Chile, and visited, inside the mine, one of the six sampling centres it has in the workplace. Within the framework of its mass testing strategy to prevent contagion, this division has already applied more than 18 000 antigen tests to workers.

During the visit, in which the adjustments made to the dressing rooms and casino of the La Junta sector in the industrial area were also inspected, the minister appreciated the effort made by all Codelco personnel, which has allowed to maintain production and continue with a key activity for the development of the country.

"Mining is essential for all the social aid provided by the government and therefore divisions like this one, which contributed more than US$1 billion last year, are essential to fulfil the commitments that have been made with the Chileans who have more complex and difficult conditions for their lives," he said.

One of the company’s main actions to operate safely has been the reduction of the exposed workforce, which in the case of El Teniente has temporarily decreased from 17 000 to 4000 people. In addition, various measures have been applied such as modifications to shift systems, physical distancing in transport, dressing rooms and casinos, daily health survey and traceability of cases, among others, which have allowed the pandemic to be successfully controlled and to show a sustained decrease in contagions.

"A series of measures have been taken to ensure that at times where there are crowds, there are no contagions. The world's first testing centre was installed inside a mine, but more than 18 000 tests have been carried out only in this division. Both PCR and antigens so that workers can be sure that they are not going to be infected in their work and that when they go home they are not going to carry the contagion to their family," the minister stressed.

Araneda, meanwhile, thanked the Minister of Mining and other authorities for their visit to El Teniente: "They are very important to see if there is something to improve and also to give reassurance that things in mining are doing well."

”In the case of Codelco,” he added, “infections have dropped substantially and the massive testing strategy applied preventively throughout the corporation has been very important.”

Regarding the resumption of the company’s projects, the Executive President reported that both in Chuquicamata and El Teniente, "we are gradually starting the projects that we had stopped, with a step-by-step scheme, gradually, based on the new standards. and being very rigorous in its compliance."

And he added that in the case of El Teniente "we will resume the Diamante, Andesita and Andes Norte projects, in a period that will probably take us a couple of months to reach 100%.”

The project portfolio of El Teniente (excluding Nuevo Nivel Mina), temporarily suspended since 4 July 2020, is of vital importance, since it extends the useful life of the division – located in the O'Higgins Region – by 50 years, which will allow the generation of surpluses to be maintained, which reaches US$11.5 billion in the last 10 years.

Since that date, only activities associated with security, operational support and basic services have been developed with 17% of the pre-pandemic staffing. The peak of activity of the projects is planned for 2021 and 2022.

During the tour of El Teniente, both authorities were accompanied by the Seremi de Minería de O'Higgins and the Metropolitan Region, Manuel Cuadra and Patricio Valdés, respectively, and the Regional Director of Sernageomin O'Higgins. In addition, the Vice President of South Central Operations of Codelco, Mauricio Barraza, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Renato Fernández, the General Manager of El Teniente Division, Andrés Music and the Manager of El Teniente Development Projects, Pablo Gándara, participated.

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