Big pit, big bonus: Codelco gives every Chuquicamata worker $35,475

El Mostrador reported over the weekend Chilean copper giant Codelco is giving each of its 5,900 employees at the Chuquicamata mine a bonus of 16.8 million pesos (US$35,475) each, an interest free loan of CLP3 million ($6,334) on top of that a 3.7% pay hike.

The bonus is something of a windfall for the miners. Chile is a middle income country with a per capita income of some $17,000 per annum and its economy is closely tied to copper.

Chuquicamata in the north of the country is a truly gigantic mine – by some measure the world's biggest open pit – and has been mined for the past 90 years.

State-owned Codelco has been riding high this year on the back of a robust copper price which should average above $3.50 a pound in 2012 and a win against rival Anglo-American following a bitter court battle over ownership of the flagship Los Bronces mines and plants.

Codelco CEO Thomas Keller said output could reach around 1.7 million tonnes for this year and in 2013 could push a record 1.8 million tonnes, thanks to a $5 billion commitment to the company's copper operations.

Image of Chuquicamata courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.