(Adds context, details on operational reduction)
By Dave Sherwood
SANTIAGO, March 19 (Reuters) - Global miner Anglo-American said on Thursday it would scale down operations at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile to the minimum necessary to ensure "operational continuity" amid the spread of the coronavirus in the South American nation.
The miner said in a statement it expected only minimal impact on output because it planned to continue processing stockpiled copper.
Chile is the world´s top producer of the red metal. The mineral-rich South American nation is home to massive copper mines run by BHP, Teck, Glencore Plc , Freeport-McMoRan Inc and Antofagasta Plc , several of which have already announced strict virus-control measures at their sites.
State-owned Codelco, the world´s largest copper miner, said on Wednesday it, too, planned to reduce its operations to contain the spread of coronavirus. The miner told Reuters on Thursday the outbreak had not yet impacted its sales or shipments out of Chile.
Canada´s Teck Resources this week also temporarily suspended construction activities at its Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) copper project in Chile to ensure employee safety.
Chile´s mining minister warned earlier this week that plunging prices and falling demand from China, Chile´s biggest customer, would dent the country´s finances. Chile produces nearly one-third of the world´s copper.
The South American nation has thus far confirmed 238 cases of coronavirus since the first was certified on March 3, but no deaths. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jason Neely and Bernadette Baum)