UPDATE 2-Anglo halting Chile Los Bronces mine operations due to protest

lunes 24 de marzo de 2014 18:56 GYT

(Adds union, context on Chilean mining, analyst quote)

SANTIAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - Global miner Anglo American Plc said on Monday it was halting operations at its Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile because of a violent protest by contract workers.

Los Bronces, perched high in the Andes near Santiago, produced 416,300 tonnes of copper last year, roughly 7 percent of Chile's overall output.

In the early hours of Monday, contract workers launched a protest over what they say are layoff threats and the London-listed miner's refusal to negotiate a series of demands. It is unclear how long the labor action could last.

Still, a union leader said there was interest in reaching agreement with the company to resolve the dispute.

The demonstrators set tires on fire, damaged installations and looted during the protest, according to Anglo.

The protests highlight growing tensions with contract workers, who are usually paid less than their staff counterparts for similar work, at a time when Chile's mining boom is slowing.

"The issue with contract workers explodes once in a while," said Juan Carlos Guajardo, the head of mining think tank CESCO.

He stressed, however, "the violence is very concerning. It's generating more and more complications in Chilean mining ... I think we could see more cases like these."   Continuación...