SANTIAGO, July 8 (Reuters) - Workers at Anglo American’s small El Soldado copper mine in Chile began a strike on Friday after failing to reach agreement in contract talks, a union official told Reuters.
The union said operations ceased at 8 a.m. local time (1200 GMT), with workers continuing only essential shifts at the mine, which produced around 36,000 tonnes of copper last year, less than 1 percent of Chile’s overall 5.76 million tonnes.
Workers rejected the company’s final contract offer last week, and official mediation since then had failed to make any progress, union head Jaime Munoz said.
However, he added that the union remained open to restarting talks. Anglo American did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Following a sharp fall in the copper price, miners in top exporter Chile have cut costs, reduced output and shed jobs. El Soldado, which has lost money in the last three years, is engaged in an aggressive cost saving plan.
El Soldado is part of the Anglo American Sur venture, which is controlled by Anglo and includes the larger Los Bronces mine. State-owned Codelco and Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi also own stakes. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Rosalba O‘Brien; Editing by Frances Kerry)