28 de julio de 2015 / 16:48 / en 2 años

UPDATE 3-Codelco restarts Chuquicamata mine after strike forces halt

* Protesters block Codelco mine access roads across Chile

* Codelco No. 2 mine temporarily halted Tuesday morning

* Salvador remains suspended (New throughout, adds more comments from companies)

By Fabian Cambero

SANTIAGO, July 28 (Reuters) - A week-long strike by Codelco contract workers in Chile briefly stopped work at its second-largest copper mine on Tuesday, as Codelco Chief Executive Officer Nelson Pizarro negotiated with companies that employ the striking workers.

State-run Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper miner, said it had halted operations at Chuquicamata on Tuesday morning, after protesters cut off mine access roads and threw stones at vehicles as shifts changed.

By afternoon, operations had “normalized”, the company said in a statement.

Codelco is undertaking an ambitious investment plan to revamp its aging mines at a time when the copper price is at multi-year lows.

Century-old Chuquicamata’s contribution has declined as its ore grades have diminished, but it still had output of 340,000 tonnes of copper in 2014, or about 2 percent of global output.

Codelco said seven of its eight projects including El Teniente, its largest mine, were operational on Tuesday.

Its small Salvador mine, which produced 54,000 tonnes of copper, or just under 1 percent of Codelco’s total output last year, remained suspended and occupied by the protesters.

On Friday a worker was shot dead by police near Salvador, and at the weekend strikers seized control of the project.


Contract workers affiliated with the Confederation of Copper Workers, or CTC, have been on strike since July 21. They are demanding the right to negotiate a benefits package similar to the one offered to direct employees.

The CTC, which represents contractors such as cleaners and drivers, as well as some other workers, has said the strike will continue until Codelco agrees to talk with them.

But Codelco has ruled out negotiations with the strikers, which it says represent around 1 percent of its workforce.

Pizarro and the contractor companies met on Tuesday to discuss the situation. Both said afterwards that the strikers’ demands were unrealistic under current market conditions.

“We don’t have the capacity today to be able to finance such a deal,” said Cristian Viscaya, head of a mining suppliers’ industry group after the meeting.

Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange received a small boost after news of Chuquicamata’s halt.

“If it’s two months, it becomes more serious,” said Ed Meir, a metals analyst at INTL FCStone. “Right now, it’s more of a wait-and-see game.” (Additional reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Writing by Rosalba O‘Brien; Editing by David Gregorio and Richard Chang)

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