With the strike at BHP Billiton’s giant Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert, Chile continuing with no signs of abating the prices for copper continued to rise in London. Worldwide speculation over supply shortages are fueling prices right now rather than actual demand.
The strike at the Escondida mine went into the fifth day today as labor authorities began to prepare to mediate the talks between the company management and labor unions. Roberto Arriagada, a union director claims that the strike has cost the company about 12,000 tonnes in lost production so far. He added that Escondida is totally paralyzed.
Juan Luis Ossa a member of the Codelco board said that Chile was a mining superpower and so it was highly worrisome that they hast been hit by labour disputes, bad weather and lower output at some of its older mines.
Union leader Marcelo Tapia added to the company woes as he announced that 2,300 workers at the private mine will be joined Wednesday by 7,000 contractors. He was also hopeful that the union workers at the state owned mining company would also join them on Thursday.
The primary issue for the strike is the money paid to the mine workers. The company is prepared to pay monthly production bonuses that add up to $6,000 per worker by year's end. The union wants nearly twice that much.