Antofagasta faces strike threats at two of its copper mines in Chile

Zaldívar copper mine. (Image courtesy of Antofagasta PLC)

Chilean mining company Antofagasta Minerals, one of the biggest global copper producers, on Tuesday was facing potential strikes from workers at its Zaldivar mine and by supervisors at Centinela as contract talks continue.

Zaldivar workers will vote on whether or not to strike by the end of the week, legal advisor Marcos Lopez, who was also employed by a union at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine during a historic 43-day strike earlier in the year, said.

Meanwhile supervisors at Centinela mine have already voted to strike although they expect a government mediation mechanism to extend negotiations for at least five more days, a spokesman for Chile’s mining federation said. The federation represents workers at some of Chile’s biggest mines.

The combined annual production at both mines is 160,000 tonnes of copper. Chile is the world’s largest producer of the red metal.

Antofagasta said in an e-mail to Reuters that talks were continuing and following normal deadlines, without commenting specifically on the potential strikes.

(Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Chris Reese)

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