SANTIAGO, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Chilean miners including state-owned Codelco will evaluate transportation alternatives after a key railway suspended transport of a major copper product due to growing theft in the country’s main mining region, the state firm said on Tuesday.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer but a recent wave of robberies have undermined the logistics of bringing the valuable red metal to market.

Global BHP Group (BHP.AX), another major miner with operations in the South American country, said it is also assessing its transport options, according to a statement issued last week.

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The FCAB railway arm of Chile’s Antofagasta Group (ANTO.L) announced last weekend an indefinite suspension of the transport of so-called cathodes, copper sheets used to make a wide variety of goods, due to robberies mostly targeting lines in the country’s northern region.

Codelco is implementing a plan to ensure the continuity of transportation for its products, the company said in a brief statement sent to Reuters.

FCAB added the suspension will continue until significant security improvements are implemented.

Chile mostly produces copper concentrates, but a quarter of its output last year was represented by cathodes.

In June, the government launched a plan to boost police presence and surveillance in the north, a sparsely populated area that is also home to the bone-dry Atacama Desert.

Chile’s key mining sector called on the government in mid-August to take more action to stop what it then described as an “escalation” of criminal activity. read more

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Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Alistair Bell

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