Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Plc (ANTO.L) will close its Lince open pit mine because it is not viable following a slide in prices, the firm said on Wednesday.

The London-listed miner said copper cathode production at its Michilla unit from its underground mine would be 38,000 tonnes in 2009 after the loss of about 7,000 tonnes due to the closure of Lince, which has higher costs.

The firm has previously said 2008 copper output was due to rise 8 percent to around 463,000 tonnes.

The closure will lead to about 70 job losses, leaving the Michilla operation with 440 employees and 1,000 contractors, it added.

“Michilla will continue to review the longer-term future of the mine over the following months taking into account the current copper price environment and the interests of the Antofagasta group in the district including the Antucoya project,” a statement said.

Benchmark London Metal Exchange copper prices MCU3 have tumbled 63 percent since touching a record in July. (Reporting by Eric Onstad, Editing by Peter Blackburn) 

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