Unions at Chuquicamata mine approve Codelco contract offer, strike ends

Chile’s Chuquicamata open pit copper mine moved underground last year. It was the world’s largest. (Image courtesy of Codelco via Flickr)

The three main labor unions at Chile’s Chuquicamata mine voted on Thursday to accept the latest contract offer from Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, ending a two-week-old strike that had docked output at the sprawling copper deposit.

The unions, which make up 80% of the workforce at the mine, had rejected Codelco’s offer on Saturday, but asked the state miner for another chance to vote on the proposal this week.

“We profoundly appreciate the commitment of each of our members, who along with their families and union leaders took this giant step toward defending our rights,” Union 3, one of the striking labor groups, said in a letter distributed to members after the vote.

Chuquicamata, or “Chuqui,” one of Codelco’s key copper deposits, faces a challenge to maintain output as the open-pit mine undergoes a complex $5 billion-plus transformation into an underground shaft mine. The overhaul has meant job cuts in some areas of the mine, making relations tense with workers.

(By Fabian Cambero and Natalia Ramos; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

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