Chile’s state-owned Codelco has closed its Ventanas metal smelter in the town of Quintero, following 58 years of operations.

The decision to close the troubled smelter was announced last year due to environmental incidents in the region that stained the facility’s operations, reported Reuters.

Last year, the company ceased the smelter for maintenance and operational adjustments after Chile’s environmental regulator declared an environmental emergency in the region due to pollution from the smelter, which left dozens of people suffering from sulphur dioxide poisoning.

During the unit’s closing, Codelco board chairman Maximo Pacheco was cited by Reuters as saying: “The transformation of the Ventanas division is clear evidence that this corporation is moving decisively towards more sustainable mining.”

The decision also aligns with the company’s efforts to shift its focus to producing more sustainable copper to meet the surging demands.

Union workers at the smelter initially opposed the closure decision but later reached an agreement with Codelco.

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By GlobalData

Codelco Windows Division general manager Ricardo Weishaupt said: “The company not only brought quality jobs but also developed for the community: among other social initiatives, the company provided houses for its workers in Quintero, Puchuncaví, and many other communes in the Valparaíso region, and significantly transformed the regional economy.

“In these 58 years, we have melted more than 18 million tonnes of concentrate, and it is an achievement that should fill us with pride because it has always been done in full compliance with the law.”