Monday, September 20

Chile’s Codelco and Andina supervisors agree on contract

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SANTIAGO — Chilean state-owned miner Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said on Tuesday it reached agreement on a new contract with supervisors at its Andina mine.

The 36-month deal, approved by 92% of union members in a vote, does not provide a pay increase but includes a signing bonus equivalent to about $6,500 USD per member, plus incentives for meeting production goals.

“The terms of the agreement represent the best possible offer by the company in a collective negotiation taking into account the challenges of transformation and competitiveness that this division has,” said the general manager of the mine, Rodrigo Barrera, quoted in a statement.

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Copper prices have soared to record highs this year, handing unions in Chile additional leverage, ratcheting up tensions in labor negotiations and putting pressure on global supply of the red metal.

Chilean copper miners continued to churn out ore without significant restrictions during a number of the COVID-19-associated lockdowns from early 2019.

However, Codelco, a major earner for Chile, is engaged a costly overhaul of its mines amid declining ore grades. The company has spent at least $250 million on a three-year plan to move the Andina mine away from glaciers, amid sharp criticism from environmentalists, and is struggling to formulate a viable plan to extend its viability.

Blue-collar workers belonging to three other unions at Andina went on strike on Aug. 12 after failing to reach a contract with the company.

Andina produced 184,000 tonnes of copper in 2020, around 10% of Codelco’s total output. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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