BHP has announced stricter health and safety protocols at its Chilean operations, following over 200 positive tests for Covid-19 at the miner’s facilities.

Cases of Covid-19 at its Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, reached 150 earlier this week, while the Spence project reported 59 cases of the virus. In response, the miner has rerouted all flights to the facilities through Antofagasta airport, to avoid the city of Calama that has recorded a high number of cases, and stressed the importance of social distancing measures for workers.

The news is the latest challenge for the miner, which had reported a 8% decline in global copper output in the first three months of the year, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt traditional working methods, and impede new projects. The Spence mine, for instance, was set to receive a $2.5bn investment to increase its annual copper output to 200,000 tonnes, a move which has had to be shelved. BHP also noted that 76 of these cases remained “active”, according to Reuters, and although the miner has not reported any deaths among its workforce, the spreading pandemic will be of concern to the company and its employees.

“This is a dynamic situation that can change rapidly, which is why we are making our best effort to implement all measures necessary to protect the health of our workers and contractors,” said BHP.