Chile’s Caserones mine regrets union strike, open to talks

Caserones copper mine is located at an altitude of 4,200m to 4,600m above sea-level in the Atacama Desert, close to the border with Argentina. (Image courtesy of Lumina Copper Chile.)

Minera Lumina Copper said on Tuesday it regretted a decision by workers at its Caserones mine in Chile to abandon contract talks and walk off the job, suggesting the two parties were still far from reaching a deal after the first day of a strike.

The union said on Monday talks had gone nowhere and that it felt it had no choice but to walk out. The decision to strike came before the two parties had completed the full, 10-day period of government-mediation typical of such labor talks in Chile.

Minera Lumina Copper, controlled by Japan’s JX Nippon Copper, said in a statement that the benefits it had offered were competitive even when compared to mines of greater output and size than Caserones. The miner said it remained open to further talks.

“The company’s proposal improved on the benefits granted in 2018, and addressed the points raised by the union,” the company said.

The union did not immediately reply to the statement from management.

Copper prices soared to record highs this year, handing unions in Chile and elsewhere additional leverage in labor negotiations with large global miners.

The strike at Caserones comes as several mines in world top copper producer Chile are in the throes of tense labor negotiations, including BHP Group’s sprawling Escondida and Codelco’s Andina, at a time when supply is already tight, leaving markets on edge.

Caserones, a comparatively smaller mine in Chile, produced 126,972 tons of copper in 2020.

(By Fabian Cambero and Dave Sherwood; Editing by Richard Pullin)


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