Chile’s Codelco says unions at Salvador mine reject early wage deal

Salvador operation. Photo by Codelco.

Chile´s Codelco, the world’s top copper miner, said late on Friday evening that workers’ unions at its small Salvador copper division had rejected an early wage deal from the company, pushing off further negotiations until later this year when its contract expires.

The state-run miner said workers at its Potrerillos and Benito Tapia Tapia unions, both part of its Salvador Division, had voted against a preliminary offer from the company that included a signing bonus of $9,363 and a base salary increase of one percent.

“Despite efforts…to deliver a responsible offer that considers the complex scenario faced by this division, the workers…rejected the early wage offer,” Codelco said in a statement.

Union officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Codelco has long been battling to keep a lid on costs at Salvador, which produced 62,000 tonnes of copper in 2017, equivalent to nearly four percent of the state miner´s total production.

The company said in the statement that the mine has the lowest productivity of any of the top copper miner´s deposits.

The state miner, which produces nearly 10 percent of the world’s copper, is undergoing a critical period of transition as it seeks financing from the government for a $39 billion, 10-year overhaul to boost productivity at its aging mines.

It´s Salvador division worker´s contract is set to expire in November amid a busy year for negotiations at Codelco.

Thus far in 2018, the company said it has successfully reached agreements with six of its unions, thus far avoiding a strike.

Reporting By Dave Sherwood.