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Contractors to Disrupt Chile Copper Mines in 2010, Cuevas Says
May 12,2010 09:05CST
industry news

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Cristian Cuevas, the Chilean copper miner who led contract workers protests at Codelco's copper plants in 2007 and 2008, predicts a series of protests at the nation's mines this year as contractors seek better wage terms.

Cuevas will travel today to Iquique, northern Chile, to seek an end to a four-day dispute involving contract workers at Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc's Collahuasi copper mine, he said late yesterday in a telephone interview. Workers impeded access to the mine disrupting production, the company said.

Strikes may affect mines belonging to companies operating in Chile such as BHP Billiton Ltd., Anglo American and Xstrata because they didn't follow Codelco in improving wage terms for contractors, Cuevas said. BHP and Codelco paid salaried workers record bonuses last year, widening a gap with contract workers in the world's largest copper producing nation, he said.

"Discontent has been brewing beneath the surface and it will manifest itself suddenly in situations like these," Cuevas said of the blockade at Collahuasi. "The world of the contract workers is still about discrimination."

Cuevas led two contractor strikes in 2007 and 2008 at Codelco, bringing some of the world's largest copper mines to a halt and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Codelco lost almost $100 million in revenue when contractors halted three of the company's five mines in 2008. Codelco's production fell 6.6 percent in 2007 after two months of contractor strikes.


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