March 13, 2017 / 4:55 PM / a year ago

BHP tries again to get Chile's Escondida union back to table

SANTIAGO, March 13 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton on Monday invited striking workers at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world’s largest, to return to the negotiating table, after they rejected a similar approach on Saturday.

Escondida’s 2,500-member union has been on strike since Feb. 9 after new contract talks fell apart, and the mine has produced no copper since then.

On Friday, the company invited the union to return the negotiating table. However, the union rejected the invitation, saying that it did not respect core non-negotiable conditions.

In a letter sent to the union on Monday and released to media, BHP addressed the workers’ claims and proposed a meeting for Tuesday afternoon.

“The only form of resolving those points that distance the two sides will be sitting down for dialogue and having a face-to-face conversation,” the company said.

The union is currently analyzing the content of the letter to determine its response, a union source told Reuters.

Escondida, which is majority-controlled by BHP, produced slightly more than one million tonnes of copper in 2016. Rio Tinto and Japanese companies including Mitsubishi hold minority interests in the mine.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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