(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador’s only large-scale copper mine is curbing operations as a precautionary measure while protests against an end to government fuel subsidies continue across the country.

Operations will return to normal as soon as the situation settles nationally, owner EcuaCorriente SA said in a statement on Saturday. The $1 billion Mirador project in Zamora-Chinchipe province started operating in July and is owned by a joint venture of Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co. and China Railway Construction Corp.

The company “has adopted this measure with the purpose of guaranteeing the integrity and safety of its workers, especially of those who travel daily from their places of residence to the camp in Mirador,” according to the statement.

Protests staged by indigenous leaders erupted last week following President Lenin Moreno’s move to end fuel subsidies -- a decision welcomed by the International Monetary Fund because they cost the government $1.4 billion a year.

Several roads remained blocked by demonstrators on Saturday, thousands of people formed lines to buy gas and some parts of Quito lacked running water, El Comercio newspaper reported. Moreno called for an end to violent protests and offered direct dialogue to indigenous leaders in a televised message on Friday.

The protests have cost Ecuador’s oil industry $64 million in lost production so far, according to information from the Ministry of Energy and Non Renewable Resources cited by El Comercio. Losses reached 1.19 million barrels for Oct. 7-11, including 970,708 from state-owned Petroamazonas.

--With assistance from Stephan Kueffner.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Millan Lombrana in Santiago at lmillan4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at ljavier@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann

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