SANTIAGO – Striking miners at Chile’s giant La Escondida copper mine on Monday prevented contractors from reporting to work at the site.
It was the third time strikers have impeded the work of building a second desalinization plant at the complex in the northern region of Antofagasta, mine managers told reporters.
The miners erected barricades and placed piles of burning tires on the access road to block the way for vans transporting the contractors.
The aim of the blockade was to ensure that management is keeping its promise not to bring in replacements for the strikers, union official Carlos Allendes told the Web site Soyantofagasta.cl.
La Escondida is the world’s largest copper mine, with average output of roughly 100,000 tons of the red metal per month. BHP Billiton – the world’s biggest mining company – owns 57.5 percent of Minera Escondida, the company that operates the open-pit mine.
The Escondida No. 1 union, representing 2,500 miners, declared the strike 19 days ago after a breakdown in talks aimed at hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement.
Workers are demanding a 7 percent salary hike, while the company has refused to raise wages and is proposing a reduction in some benefits, while offering a one-time bonus of 8 million pesos ($12,300).
London-based mining giant Rio Tinto and Japan’s Jeco Corporation have minority stakes in La Escondida.