(Bloomberg) -- Codelco, the Chilean state company battling to retain the title of world’s largest copper supplier, is enduring another production setback as one of its mines continues a gradual ramp-up after a fatal accident.

After the death of a worker last month, the Radomiro Tomic open pit is still only operating with about one third of its trucking fleet and isn’t scheduled to return to normal until the first or second week of May as it adopts changes to boost safety, union boss Ricardo Torrejon said by telephone. 

“April is probably going to go down a little,” Mining Minister Aurora Williams told Bloomberg on Thursday. “Naturally, we have a contingency there that we hope will recover in the third quarter of this year.” 

It’s the latest hurdle to the company’s goal of expanding output this year after a series of setbacks at mines and projects saw production slump to the lowest in a quarter century. Codelco declined to comment on Radomiro Tomic’s restart. Separately, it’s Chuquicamata underground mine began a 15-day scheduled maintenance on Monday.

Both Williams and Chairman Maximo Pacheco say Codelco’s recovery is on track, with a first-quarter decline broadly in line with internal targets.

“The commitments that Codelco has with the state is to recover production in 2024,” the minister said. “We fully trust in the management they are doing.”

The plight of Codelco has been a key topic at the Cesco Week mining event in Santiago this week, given concerns there may not be enough supply of the wiring metal to meet the needs of the energy transition. Copper futures have rallied this year to 22-month highs.

The slide in Chilean production to 20-year lows has also supported prices. The slump is about to end as the giant Quebrada Blanca expansion ramps up, with output to grow about 5% this year and 6% next year, she said. To be sure, the guidance for this year is lower than a previous 5.7% projection due to updates of company data, Williams said.

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