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UPDATE 1-World top copper producer Chile sees output slide for 10th consecutive month

(Updates with additional data, context on copper slide)

SANTIAGO, April 30 (Reuters) - World top copper producer Chile saw output of the red metal fall for the tenth consecutive month in March, government statistics agency INE said on Friday, marking a modest but continual slide in production that began shortly after the coronavirus pandemic struck the country.

Copper output fell 1.3% in March, to 491,720 tonnes, the agency said, coinciding with a raft of new restrictions on movement and commerce following the Southern Hemisphere’s summer holidays.

Chile’s sprawling mines have fared far better than those of many neighbors, as mining companies adjusted quickly to the pandemic, ratcheting up health restrictions and slashing on-site staff. But some copper mines, including BHP’s Escondida, the world’s largest, have seen production slide in recent months as fatigue mounts.

Falling ore grades and maintenance work at some large mines have also slowed output, the agency said.

Chile’s copper production fell 2.2% year on year, to 1.4 million tonnes, in the first quarter of 2021, according to INE’s statistics.

Overall manufacturing output in Chile, however, rose 3.9% in March, bolstered by the production of beverages, the agency said. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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