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Anglo-Australian giant BHP and labor unions said they have agreed to extend talks through Tuesday aimed at averting a strike at the world’s biggest copper mine in Chile.
Management and union leaders at the Escondida mine agreed to extend the talks by one day in a bid to avoid a crippling shutdown – which could start as early as Thursday if no agreement is reached, as Wednesday is a national holiday in Chile.
The main union, Sindicato No1, said in a statement it had managed to clear up some issues that had stalled the negotiations, ‘but there are still some important points to be resolved.’
The union’s 2,500 members voted to strike on August 2. They are demanding a five percent pay raise and profit-share bonuses.
The giant Escondida complex – which produces nearly one million tonnes of copper annually – is located 170 kilometers (106 miles) south-east of Antofagasta, in northern Chile’s Atacama desert.
Memories are still fresh of a 44-day strike at the mine last year which slashed copper production by 39 percent, jolted markets and slowed Chile’s economic growth.
The South American country is the world’s largest copper producer, responsible from almost one-third of global production.