The global copper slump is helping to tap the brakes on Latin America’s fastest-growing renewable-energy market.
Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, has been adding solar panels and wind turbines for two years to supply power-thirsty smelters that process ore from remote mines in the sun-baked northern desert. But with metal prices half what they were five years ago, output fell and energy demand slowed. That’s compounding an electricity glut in a self-contained power grid thousands of miles from population centers in the stick-shaped South American country.
A deadly algal bloom has hit the world’s second biggest salmon exporter, Chile, where nearly 23 million fish have already died and the economic impact from lost production is seen soaring to $800 million, industry and government sources told Reuters.
There are so many dead fish, they could easily fill 14 olympic-size swimming pools, said Jose Miguel Burgos, the head of the government’s Sernapesca fisheries body.
Unusually high ocean temperatures, due in large part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, have fueled the algal bloom that has affected 37 of the nearly 415 salmon farms operating in southern Chile. Most of the farms are in ocean enclosures or in estuaries.
Chile’s economy grew 0.3 percent in January from the same month a year ago, according to the IMACEC economic activity index. The figure shows the slowest growth in almost six years in January as a rout in copper prices hurt the key mining sector. But the government downplayed the data, saying it expected better numbers in February.