FACTBOX-Most Chilean ports normalizing operations following quakes

by Reuters
Thursday, 3 April 2014 15:11 GMT

(Updates list of ports that have reopened)

April 3 (Reuters) - Port activity was normalizing in Chile on Thursday after a major earthquake on Tuesday evening and a strong aftershock the following night.

Five major ports used to export copper and other commodities were shut following the 8.2 magnitude quake on Tuesday, which triggered a small tsunami and subsequent rough waters.

The metal-exporting ports of Iquique and Patache, both close to the epicenter, remained closed on Thursday. That suggests some trade flows from the world's top copper producer might be temporarily interrupted.

Here is the latest update on the ports' status from the Chilean army and port sources:

* Iquique, located about 150 miles (240 km) south of Arica and relatively near the quake's epicenter, was closed as of 12 p.m. (1500 GMT) on Wednesday until an inspection of berths and terminal had been completed.

Ships will likely be able to dock as of Friday, Alfredo Leiton, the head of the port, told Reuters. But the port may still be faced with a labor shortage, as the road from Iquique to Alto Hospicio, where many workers live, is cut off.

The port exported around 167,858 tonnes of copper and iron last year, according to customs data.

* Patache, a port owned by the massive copper mine Collahuasi, was closed prior to the earthquake at 1:02 p.m. (1602 GMT) on Tuesday and stayed shut Thursday.

It exported 1.01 million tonnes of copper and iron last year, according to customs data. Collahuasi is a partnership between Glencore Xstrata and Anglo American.

The mine's chief executive officer said the port was not harmed, but workers were evacuated following the tsunami alert.

* Arica, the country's northernmost port city on the border with Peru and Bolivia, reopened as of 9:05 a.m. (1205 GMT) on Thursday. It had been closed as of 7:08 a.m. (1008 GMT) on Wednesday due to seismic shocks and abnormal sea swells.

While small, the port is strategically important for shipping copper, zinc and lead from landlocked Bolivia, one of the region's biggest mining countries.

Most Chilean metal exports go through the larger Antofagasta port, which is about 400 miles (640 km) south of Arica.

A spokesperson said the port was unharmed, adding that two ships had been waiting outside the port to enter.

* Tocopilla reopened at 9:40 a.m. (1240 GMT) on Thursday, having closed prior to the earthquake at 6:01 a.m. (9001 GMT) on Tuesday.

* Mejillones reopened as of 1:32 p.m. (1632 GMT) on Wednesday. Earlier that day, it had been partially closed for docking and large ships until each terminal had been inspected.

* All other ports in the mineral-rich north are open, including Antofagasta and Taltal.

For status updates, see the Chilean army's website: http://link.reuters.com/quq28v (Reporting by Josephine Mason, Alexandra Ulmer and Fabian Cambero; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)

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