Workers at Chile’s Quebrada Blanca mine set to strike

SANTIAGO, Dec 12 (Reuters) – A union at Teck Resources’ Quebrada Blanca copper mine in Chile is set to strike on Wednesday after contract talks mediated by the Chilean government failed to reach a deal, the union told Reuters on Tuesday.

Jorge Flores, the president of a 105-member union that represents around a quarter of the mine’s workforce, said its workers had failed to find agreement with the company on a bonus scheme that would put it on equal footing with the mine’s other unions.

“We were unable to reach a deal with the company, and so we will begin to strike on our first shift tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7 a.m. (1000 GMT),” said Flores.

Operations would continue if there is a strike, said Teck spokesman Chris Stannell at the company’s headquarters in Vancouver.

“We do not anticipate an impact on overall production,” the spokesman said.

However, Flores predicted the walk-off would likely impact production.

“Our people work in key positions and we believe operations will be affected,” Flores said.

The mine’s other unions earlier this year opted to extend their contracts for 15 months, leaving negotiations until 2018.

Quebrada Blanca has produced 17,300 tonnes of copper so far this year. The operation is nearing the end of its life and Teck may make a decision on whether to proceed with a $4.7 billion, second-phase development in the second-quarter of 2018.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O’Brien)

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