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Workers end strike at Chile's Antucoya copper mine

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Workers end strike at Chile's Antucoya copper mine

Santiago — Workers have ended a strike at the Antucoya copper mine in northern Chile after approving a new pay proposal from the company, the union said Monday.

The 18-day strike marked the first-ever legal strike at a mine controlled by London-listed copper producer Antofagasta.

"We know that it has not been easy for the company, which, after facing the first legal strike in the Antofagasta Minerals group, has been open to dialogue and improved the benefits which led to the strike," the union said in a statement.

Antofagasta owns 70% of the operation, with Japan's Marubeni Corporation holding the rest.

The Antucoya mine, one of Antofagasta's newest operations, is expected to produce 75,000-80,000 mt of copper cathode this year.

Workers downed tools on October 16 after union negotiators and management failed to reach agreement on a new pay contract during extended government-mediated talks.

The strike took place against the background of widespread protests and rioting over rising living costs and social inequality that have rocked Chilean cities over the last fortnight.

The unrest has hampered operations in Chile's mining industry with workers holding stoppages at several mines, including BHP's Escondida and Spence mines Codelco's Andina division.

Companies have also had to take special measures to ensure mine supplies and shift changes amid the protests and curfews imposed in many areas. Protests by port workers have also slowed exports.

Last month, Antofagasta said that it expects the turmoil to reduce copper production by around 5,000 mt during this quarter.

In a statement, the Antucoya union said that the new deal includes a 2.4% pay increase, improved education benefits, and larger production bonuses, representing an increase of more than 15% from the workers' current contract.

The union would not comment on the signing bonus included in the deal, usually worth more than $10,000 each.

Meanwhile, a strike at Teck's Carmen de Andacollo copper mine, 298 miles north of Santiago, completed three weeks of its strike Monday. Last week, union members overwhelmingly boycotted a vote on the latest offer from the company for failing to meet expectations, union president Manuel Alvarez told S&P Global Platts.

Andacollo produced 67,200 mt of copper last year.

-- Staff, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com