Talks Break Down at Chile’s Spence Mine

27 October 2009 (Last Updated October 27th, 2009 18:30)

Copper workers at Chile's Spence mine continued their strike yesterday, saying they had no plans to meet with the owner BHP Billiton to settle their disagreement which has now impacted production. On 13 October workers at the mine began a strike after union members vetoed BHP's offer fo

Copper workers at Chile's Spence mine continued their strike yesterday, saying they had no plans to meet with the owner BHP Billiton to settle their disagreement which has now impacted production.

On 13 October workers at the mine began a strike after union members vetoed BHP's offer following a government-assisted mediation period.

A government-appointed mediator did not break the deadlock in meetings last week targeted at resuming talks, viewed as an indicator of future labour negotiations at other mines located in Chile, the top global copper producer.

Head of Spence's 560-member union Andres Ramirez said it does not have any contact with the company and the strike persists.

Spence, which generated 165,000t of copper in 2008, has stopped mineral extraction activity at the mine and is generating cathodes at a lower rate, BHP spokesman Mauro Valdes said.

"We are only harvesting cathodes during the day shift, which assures the integrity of the installations and is compatible with the number of people working at the mine and their safety," he said.

Traders are on the alert for wage negotiations at state-owned Codelco after BHP fixed the bar high with a generous wage and benefits proposal at its Escondida mine.