Output at Chile’s Escondida copper mine falls 7.8 pct in 2017

SANTIAGO, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Output at BHP Billiton PLC’s Escondida mine in Chile, the largest copper mine in the world, fell 7.8 percent in 2017 compared to the prior year due to a prolonged strike, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The decline to 903,000 tonnes came despite the start of operations at a new wing.

BHP said production in the second half of the year grew 29 percent to 583,000 tonnes compared with the same period in 2016, largely due to the opening of the concentrator on Sept. 10, 2017. The mine produced just 320,000 tonnes of the metal in the first six months due to a strike that lasted more than 40 days.

Workers ultimately returned to work after deciding to extend their old contract, but that means they will return to the negotiating table with the company this year.

Rio Tinto PLC and Japan’s JECO Co Ltd also have stakes in Escondida.

(Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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