Codelco miners vote to strike as copper disruption threats mount

Codelco Andina plant. (File image)

Workers at the Andina mine in central Chile rejected owner Codelco’s wage offer, opting instead to begin a strike that may further tighten global copper supplies.

About 82% of members of the two main unions at Andina voted to walk off the job, snubbing a proposal delivered by the state-owned company during mediated talks.

Union leaders were scheduled to meet with management Wednesday afternoon to ratify the results, with a strike set to begin Thursday. Workers are seeking better benefits and remuneration that reflects high copper prices, the unions said in a statement.

A stoppage at Andina, a mid-sized mine that produced 184,500 metric tons last year, adds to labor tensions in top exporter Chile, where workers at a mine owned by JX Nippon Mining & Metals started a strike this week and union members at the giant Escondida mine are voting on a final wage offer from owner BHP Group.

Until now Codelco, the world’s biggest copper producer, had avoided strikes in the current hectic wage negotiation cycle in Chile, where sky-high metal prices have emboldened workers amid an uptick in resource nationalism spurred by pandemic-related economic woes.

(By James Attwood)

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