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Chile's Codelco, Chuquicamata copper mine workers extend talks

  • Author
  • Tom Azzopardi
  • Editor
  • Keiron Greenhalgh
  • Commodity
  • Metals

Santiago — Codelco negotiators and union leaders agreed to continue mediated talks for a further five days to avoid a strike at the state-owned Chuquicamata copper mine in northern Chile, unions involved in the pay discussions said Thursday.

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Around 3,200 workers were due to walk out on strike Friday, potentially halting production at one of the world's largest copper mines.

In 2018, the Chuquicamata mine produced 320,744 mt of copper, representing 17.8% of the state-owned miner's total output.

The two sides agreed to extend negotiations after an offer from Codelco failed to meet the unions' expectations, the unions said.

A strike would overshadow the upcoming inauguration of an underground operation at Chuquicamata by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on July 3.

Local media reported that Codelco, the world's largest producer of copper, had increased its offer to include bonuses worth Chilean Pesos 14 million ($20,200) plus a 1.2% pay increase.

Both sides sought mediation after the workers from the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 unions voted overwhelmingly in favor of rejecting a previous offer and in favor of a strike.

Speaking last week, Codelco CEO Nelson Pizarro expressed confidence a deal could be reached without industrial action.

Codelco has closed more than a dozen pay deals with unions over the past 18 months in one of the busiest periods for the company's labor negotiators.

Deals with two smaller unions at Chuquicamata were reached earlier in 2019.

-- Tom Azzopardi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com