July 19, 2012 / 11:21 PM / in 7 years

Some Codelco contractors to strike, firm says output safe

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Around 500 contract workers at three of world No. 1 copper producer Codelco’s CODEL.UL massive northern deposits will strike on Friday, the national federation of contract workers said, but Codelco said the unrest won’t affect output.

The contractors work in Chuquicamata’s smelter, acid plant and refinery, and in Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales’ maintenance areas, the federation added.

“This won’t have any effect,” a Codelco CODEL.UL spokesman told Reuters on Thursday. “We’re taking measures to replace them without any difficulty.”

Century-old Chuquicamata produced 443,000 metric tons of copper last year and the promising Radomiro Tomic mine produced 470,000 metric tons. Ministro Hales is scheduled to start operations next year.

World-leading copper producer Chile has in the past years been hit by a series of labor actions encouraged by record prices for the red metal.

Talks with the Metalcav contract workers broke down over demands for larger salary increases and heftier bonuses to end strikes, the federation said in a statement.

The head of a local contractor union, Jose Mardones, told Reuters they would request government monitoring to “block the replacements.”

Early on Thursday morning, other union leaders blocked access to Chuquicamata’s “industrial areas” for three hours, Codelco said. Police forces had to be called in to free up access.

The labor action didn’t affect output, according to the firm.

Reporting By Alexandra Ulmer and Fabian Cambero; editing by M.D. Golan

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