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BHP has lost 41,000 tonnes of copper due to strike at Escondida

BHP Billiton has a 57% stake in Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine. (Image courtesy of Municipalidad Antofagasta | Flickr )

World’s largest miner BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT) has already lost 41,000 tonnes of copper production due to an ongoing strike at its Econdida mine in Chile, the world’s largest.

According to 24 Horas (in Spanish), there seems to be no end in sight for the stoppage, which completed 14 days Wednesday, following a failed government-mediated meeting between workers and the company held on Tuesday.

BHP said is willing to return to the negotiating table as many times as necessary to reach a new collective agreement.

Both sides have yet to reach an agreement over topics such as shift pattern changes, one-off bonus sizes and fresh wages, but a mine’s spokesman said Wednesday management is willing to return to the negotiating table as many times as necessary to reach a new collective agreement, PubliMetro reports (in Spanish). He added the firm won’t replace any workers until past 30 days of the labour action, even though it can legally hire temporary workers after 15 days of a strike.

While it’s difficult to estimate the potential financial impact of the strike, BHP — which declared force majeure on shipments from the mine last week — has said it expected to produce about 1.7 million tonnes of copper this year at Escondida. Considering that figure represents a daily output of 2,931 tonnes, the company is already 41,000 tonnes behind its estimate.

Based on BHP’s latest earnings report released on Tuesday, health and safety are part of the company’s values and the miner said it was “committed to providing a safe workplace.”

In the same release, the Melbourne, Australia-based firm noted that total copper output guidance for 2017 was currently under review due to the strike at Escondida. BHP also stated it was on track to deliver $1.8 billion of productivity gains within the 2017 financial year, excluding any impact from the ongoing industrial action at its largest copper mine.