El Teniente Contractors Begin Strike at Chile Copper Mine

Contract workers at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine in central Chile began a strike today over pay and benefits, a union official said.

The strike has affected activity at the underground mine, Jorge Pena, a leader of a subcontractor union at the mine, said by telephone today, without elaborating. While there were some delays in personnel arriving to the site, output is normal, a company official briefed on the matter said by phone, declining to be named citing company policy.

State-owned Codelco is the world’s biggest copper producer. Contractors disrupted output at El Teniente, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Santiago, in 2008. The mine is the fourth-largest in Chile, producing 404,000 metric tons last year, according to data published by state research company Cochilco.

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, produced 1.09 million tons of Chile’s 5.4 million-ton total output, according to Cochilco. Codelco’s Chuquicamata produced 528,000 tons last year, according to the company, followed by Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc’s Collahuasi mine which produced 504,000 tons.

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