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Montevideo, May 22nd 2019 - 09:20 UTC

North Chile heavy rain and flash flooding forces suspension of world's largest copper mines

Thursday, March 26th 2015 - 09:46 UTC
Full article 12 comments

Heavy rains in Chile's northern desert regions have caused mudslides and rivers to breach their banks, leaving residents stranded and forcing top copper miner Codelco to suspend mining operations. Read full article


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  • ElaineB

    I was in the Atacama Desert last week and it was strange weather indeed. Terrific storms in the evenings and torrential downpours that left the streets like rivers. Of course, it fell as snow in the Andes and when it melted we had surges in the rivers. One evening the river near to the hotel rose 1 meter in one hour and then subsided. I think they may have to relinquish their 'driest desert in the world' trophy.

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 10:50 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    I am sure the UK will send assistance, if required.

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 10:56 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Condorito

    I am guessing that you were in San Pedro, which actually receives some rain most years. The “bolivian winter” blows in off the altiplano feb/mar bringing rain or snow. There are much drier parts where no rain has ever been recorded.

    We are very accustomed to dealing with natural disaster, so give it a few days and all will be back to normal. Unless there is a earthquake sooner in which case all attention will switch to that. We will be sure to let you know if we require miles of traffic cones and invisible workers ;)


    Although the rain fall has been higher than in recent years, it is not historically exceptional. The weather pattern is cyclical and (I hope) this might be the end to the 8 years drought that we have in the north. Since the last rainy phase many northern towns have grown significantly and what we are seeing now is as much to do with bad planning as heavy rain.

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 11:34 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    Please take the traffic cones!!!!

    As for those invisible workers? You know they fear the rain? So not much help I am afraid. ..

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 11:42 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    @3 Yeah, I have been there a number of times over the years and know about the Bolivian winter. Talking to the locals they think this is an exceptionally wet March. The heavy snow in the town two years ago killing the plants in the gardens probably indicates a weather anomaly.

    I was talking with a lady from San Pedro just yesterday and she talked about the snow two years ago. She said only the generation before her remembers heavy snow like that.

    I believe Arica holds the trophy for the driest inhabited town in the world.

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 03:23 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    Elaine, this may seem to be cold hearted, especially after seeing the damages to thousands of people due to flooding, but I hope many more come to our drought stricken country. We are hopeful that this is a change in cycles.

    Mar 26th, 2015 - 09:36 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    @6 Not cold hearted at all. Chile has been in a drought for far too long and it has had a real impact.

    By contrast areas like Pucon have had very little rain this year. They are probably happy with that.

    I remember being in Chiloe and sheets of rain hitting the windows of the hotel like someone was holding hose to it. I am sure they would appreciate a little less rain. :)

    Mar 27th, 2015 - 01:20 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Klingon

    I can just imagine the ecological damage from the overflowing silt and sediment ponds from the copper mines flowing into waterways.

    Mar 27th, 2015 - 01:29 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    I have not visited Chile since 1993, so I appreciate the comments from ElaineB & Chicureo.

    Thank you both.

    Mar 27th, 2015 - 01:43 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    Ilsen, yesterday (as well as today) the weather here in Santiago has been glorious. There is fresh snow visible in the Andes and the news papers yesterday were full of pictures of massive flood damages to he desert north. My cousin has a table grape vineyard in Copiapo and he lost over 2 hectares of land due to erosion.

    This is normal for Chile. When it floods, it really does! Same with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions and student protests in the streets.

    Still, I thank God every day that I was not born on the other side of the Andes.

    Mar 27th, 2015 - 05:50 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    I do miss it. I lived in the Vina/Valparaiso area for a few months back in the early 1990s.
    Wonderful country!
    I expect there has been a lot more development since then. I hope some of those colourful old colonial buildings are still there.

    Mar 28th, 2015 - 07:45 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    @11 The country has changed a lot in the last twenty years. Vina is not my favourite place but my Chilean friends seem to like it. I prefer rural Chile.

    Mar 28th, 2015 - 10:53 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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