(Bloomberg) -- Central Chile’s first major rain storms this year led to flooding that damaged crops, disrupted copper mining and transport and threatened water service to millions of people in greater Santiago.
Downpours since Thursday caused mudslides and some roads to close, while a railway between Santiago and the country’s south was suspended as a precaution. Schools closed and Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, halted some mining operations. Rivers broke their banks, inundating orchids in the fruit-exporting nation.
“We already have reports of impacts in important fruit areas between Valparaiso and Maule,” said Jorge Valenzuela, a cherry producer who heads the Federation of Fruit Producers of Chile.
Water utility Aguas Andinas, which supplies most of Santiago, ceased operations at some of its treatment plants due to high sediment content. It has reserves to cover demand in the capital for the next 24 hours, Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve was quoted as saying by El Mercurio.
Work at Codelco’s Andina mine was suspended, the state-owned company said in an emailed response to questions. At its El Teniente mine, underground operations continued to function while the company “preemptively halted the pit and Sewell operations.” The Los Bronces mine near Andina is operating at a reduced rate with only strictly necessary staffing, operator Anglo American Plc said in a text message.
The government has also ordered evacuations of some urban areas near river banks. Claudio Orrego, governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, called people to “responsibly” save water.
--With assistance from Jose Orozco.
(Updated Anglo American comment on Los Bronces in fifth paragraph.)
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