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Strike briefly shuts down major copper mine in Chile

Update: July, 29/2015 - 11:09

SANTIAGO — The world's largest copper producer Codelco said Tuesday that operations were back to normal at a northern Chile mine after a brief stoppage during a week-old strike by contract workers.

With picketers outside the Chuquicamata mine, production had stopped earlier during a shift change, executive president Nelson Pizarro said.

Within a few hours, operations were back to normal at seven of eight units working, the Chilean mining giant said.

About 800 workers employed by subcontractors hired by Codelco have been on strike for a week to demand higher wages.

The Chuquicamata mine, located 1,650 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of Santiago, produces around 339,000 tonnes of copper per year, making it one of the company's most productive sites.

Codelco produces 11 per cent of the world's copper.

The stoppage at Chuquicamata follows similar action at the Division El Salvador mine, one of the company's least productive sites, with 54,000 tonnes a year.

The striking workers have blocked access roads and scuffled with police.

On Friday, a Division El Salvador worker died after being shot by police trying to clear a road blocked by picketers.

The company says it cannot afford a raise for the contract workers because copper prices are at their lowest level in six years amid sluggishness in the global economy. — AFP


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