Codelco's Chuquicamata copper mine strike over

Workers at  Chuquicamata, Chile's Corporacion del Cobre or Codelco flagship copper mine, have returned to work after a 17-day strike.

Fox News Latino reports the 800 workers turned up for duties on Saturday after management agreed to pay hikes and more hiring. Over 20,000 tonnes of copper concentrate were not refined, but no other operations at the mine were affected by the labour action.

Chuquicamata, which is located 1,650 km north of the Chilean capital of Santiago, is the largest open pit copper mine in the world. It started operations in 1910 and forms the core of Codelco’s Chuquicamata division, which also includes a second open pit mine, Mina Sur.

State-owned Codelco's copper output has slumped in recent years as reserves are depleted and its biggest mines Chuquicamata and Radomiro Tomic struggle with falling grades and soaring costs.

Chuquicamata has only ten more productive years left and Codelco is spending $4.2 billion to extend the mine into an underground operation, with a projected output rate of 140,000 tonnes per day. It is expected to start production in 2018.

Apart from Chuquicamata extension Codelco's other massive project is Andina 244, a $6.8 billion expansion of the current Andina mine high in the Andes mine with target date for completion is 2020.

Codelco is responsible for 10% of the global supply of the red metal and the South American nation depends on the copper industry for almost a third of total revenues and 45% of export earnings.