April 10, 2017 / 6:47 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Southern Copper says Peru operations normal despite strike

(Adds comments from company spokesman)

LIMA, April 10 (Reuters) - A Southern Copper Corp spokesman said operations in Peru were near normal as workers started an indefinite strike on Monday, although a union representative said 80 percent of capacity was affected.

The Cuajone and Toquepala copper mines were producing at 98 percent and the Ilo refinery was operating at 100 percent capacity, a Southern Copper spokesman said.

The strike follows labor disruptions at Peru’s biggest copper mine, Cerro Verde, and Chile’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, earlier this year.

Southern Copper, owned by Grupo Mexico, boosted its copper output by 21 percent to 900,000 tonnes last year on the back of an expansion at a mine in Mexico.

Jose Espejo, a member of a union representing 2,200 workers, said workers had walked off the job and started protesting early on Monday to demand a greater share of company profits.

“We are based on each side of the railroad and we will not let the train pass,” he said, referring to the railway that transports copper concentrates from Cuajone and Toquepala to the Ilo refinery.

Another union of 800 workers at Toquepala plans to join the strike on Wednesday, Espejo said.

The company spokesman said union members would meet later on Monday with company representatives to try to resolve the conflict. (Reporting by Marco Aquino and Teresa Cespedes; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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