Escondida mine replaces top exec after failing to reach deal with workers

Chile’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, has named Brazilian Mauro Neves as its new president, following a historically long 43-day strike at the operation that ended last week with the parts failing to reach a wage deal.

Escondida — responsible for about 5% of the world’s total copper output — failed to produced more than 120,000 tonnes of the red metal due to the historically long 43-day strike.

Neves, who has held positions at mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) and Australian logistics firm Aurizon, takes over from Marcelo Castillo, who had been acting as the mine’s president on an interim basis since August last year.

Castillo, said Escondida in a statement quoted by EFE (in Spanish), will assume the position of vice president of Integrated Operations.

It's estimated that Escondida — responsible for about 5% of the world’s total copper output — failed to produced more than 120,000 tonnes of the red metal due to the stoppage.

The labour action at the world’s largest copper mine became the longest private-sector mining strike in Chile’s history and its outcome is being considered a disaster for BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT), who majority owns and operates Escondida. The miner was left with an estimated $1 billion loss and months of work ahead of it before it can fully restore production to pre-strike levels.

Other than BHP, Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi Corp. (TYO:8058) also hold stakes in the mine.

Chile is the world's biggest copper producer, and sales of the metal make up for about 60% its export earnings.