November 7, 2019 / 12:33 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Chile's October exports plummet 21% amid unrest, copper, lithium down

 (Adds context, value of lithium exports)
    By Dave Sherwood 
    Nov 7 (Reuters) - Chile's export revenue plunged by
one-fifth to $5.3 billion in October, the central bank said on
Thursday, an early sign of a faltering economy amid the worst
unrest since the South American nation's return to democracy in
    Weeks of sometimes violent protests, riots, arson and
looting in Santiago and elsewhere have led to at least 23 deaths
and more than $1.5 billion in damage to businesses, according to
authorities and rights groups.
    The value of copper exports from the world's top producer
fell by 22% in October to $2.5 billion, driven primarily by
falling prices for the red metal. 
    Chile's copper mines have mostly maintained production and
kept operations running normally despite weeks of unrest in the
country, industry insiders told Reuters this week, though there
have been incidents at some operations and uncertainty lingers.
    The value of lithium carbonate exports, meanwhile, fell 9%
to $73 million in October. Chile is the world's No. 2 producer
of lithium, a critical ingredient in the batteries that power
electric vehicles.
    Protesters from indigenous communities around Chile's
Atacama salt flat, among the world's richest reserves of the
ultralight metal, blocked access to lithium operations two weeks
ago. Top producer Albemarle said the protests had not
impacted production. Chilean miner SQM did not respond
to requests for comment.
    Import revenue also fell 20%, to $5.6 billion in October,
central bank data showed.
                          October    Sept      October
                          2019       2019      2018
 Trade balance            -$307 mln  -$19 mln  -$313 mln
 Exports (billions of     $5.257     $5.205    $6.626
 Imports (billions of     $5.564     $5.224    $6.939
 Copper export revenue    $2.515     $2.763    $3.244
 (billions of dollars)                         

 (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jason and Bernadette
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