July 24, 2017 / 8:04 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Zaldivar mine strike threat in Chile averted as deal is reached

(Adds detail on agreement, union quote, context)

SANTIAGO, July 24 (Reuters) - Copper miner Antofagasta has signed a wage deal with workers at its Zaldivar deposit in Chile, the company and the union said on Monday, averting threatened labor action.

The union of about 700 members said in a statement that the contract could come into effect from Tuesday and the company said it would last for three years.

“The new collective contract recognizes the benefits that the workers had and also makes a decided move to focus on productivity,” Zaldivar, a division of Antofagasta, said in a statement, without giving further details of the deal.

Zaldivar’s union had voted this month to strike but delayed walking off to engage in government-mediated negotiations as mandated by Chilean law.

Low prices for copper and new labor laws in Chile have stoked fears of widespread labor disputes. In March, workers at BHP Billiton’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, put down their tools for more than a month, resulting in about $1 billion in lost production.

Zaldivar produced just over 100,000 tonnes of copper last year, out of the 5.5 million tonnes produced by Chile. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Bill Trott)

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