South32’s Colombia ferronickel unit avoids strike with mine unions

Australian ferronickel miner South32 has agreed to a four-year contract with two unions at its Cerro Matoso mine in Colombia, avoiding a strike over pay and other benefits, the company said on Thursday.

Cerro Matoso produced 43,000 tons of ferronickel in the last fiscal year.

Without a deal, the Sintramineros and Sintracerromatoso unions would have called their members to vote on whether to strike or go to arbitration.

The new terms will run for four years and provide workers with a bonus for signing the deal and pay increases among other benefits, Cerro Matoso, a unit of South32, said in a statement.

Negotiations with the two unions, which represent 587 of the mine’s 860 workers, were conducted separately.

“It was a good labor agreement for the workers because we managed to maintain benefits and improve some others, avoiding a policy that’s harmful to the interests of the workers,” Sintracerromatoso head Omar Torres told Reuters.

South32 produces nickel from ferronickel in an open pit mine near the municipality of Montelibano, in the western department of Cordoba.

Cerro Matoso produced 43,000 tons of ferronickel in the last fiscal year.

(By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by David Gregorio)

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