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Codelco mulls closing Ventanas copper smelter due to pollution

Codelco is considering shutting down its Ventanas copper smelter in Chile due to pollution issues, Reuters reported Oct. 15.

The Ventanas smelter has the capacity to process 420,000 tonnes per annum of copper concentrates. Codelco shut down the smelter in August for maintenance following a closure in 2018 due to high sulfur dioxide levels.

Ventanas has been accused of polluting the Quintero area on the country's central coast, which is also home to coal-fired power plants, the report said. The state miner would need US$150 million to proceed with the closure plan, which aims to minimize impacts on workers and surrounding communities, Reuters added, citing a Codelco statement.

The Ventanas refinery will continue to operate. Ventanas' facilities, which are old and low scale, have run up annual losses of US$50 million, the company said.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera plans to announce the Ventanas closure during the COP25 climate change conference in the capital, Santiago, in December, according to media reports.