New strike hits Peru's largest copper mine

New strike hits Peru's largest copper mine

Antamina mine's tailings pond.

Unionized workers at Peru's largest copper and zinc mine, Antamina, downed tools at midnight Wednesday in an effort to secure pay bonuses and other benefits.

The strike, the second in less than a month, is already affecting "some" operations at the project, union leader Jorge Juarez told local paper Gestion (in Spanish). However a mine spokesman told Reuters that operations were "normal".

The mine, located in Peru’s central Ancash region, turned out about one-third of Peru’s copper production in 2013, according to government figures. But this year hasn’t been as good: output from Jan. to Sept. this year plummeted 16.2% compared to the same time period of 2013.

Antamina, which also produces a large amount of zinc, lead, and silver, is comprised of various stakeholders. BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Glencore (LON:GLEN) each have 33.75% stakes in Antamina, which has a 370,000 tons per year production capacity. Teck Resources (NYSE:TCK) holds a 22.5% stake in the mine and Mitsubishi Corporation has10%.

Minerals represent 60% of Peru's export revenues, but lower production, falling prices and weaker demand from Asia have taken a heavy toll on earnings, dragging the nation's growth rates down from 5.8% last year to a forecast of 3.1% for 2014, based on figures from Peru’s central bank.

Copper prices edged up barely a penny Thursday to US$2.90 a pound.

Image from WikiMedia Commons.