Metals News
TIMELINE-Chile's Major Mining Strikes in Past 20 years
industry news
May 12,2010

SANTIAGO, May 11 (Reuters) - Talks to end a five-day subcontractor protest that shut Chile's Collahuasi copper mine broke down on Tuesday, raising the specter of violence at one of the world's top deposits and contagion in other mines.
Managers at Collahuasi walked away from talks with subcontractors blocking access to the mine that produced 535,000 tonnes of copper last year or 3.3 percent of the world's mined copper.

Collahuasi was forced to halt operations on Saturday, a day after hundreds of subcontractors blocked access with burning tires and rocks to demand better working conditions and pay.

Following is a chronology of the major mining strikes in Chile over nearly two decades.

August 1991 - More than 9,500 miners at state-run Codelco's El Teniente copper mine staged a strike for nearly a month, halting production and costing the company $450,000 a day. That same year workers at Chuquicamata, at that time the world's largest copper mine, downed tools for two weeks.

February 1995 - State-owned Ventanas copper refinery's 1,200 workers walked off the job over a wage dispute that forced the government to buy copper cathodes in the spot market to ensure deliveries.

May 1996 - Miners at Codelco's giant Chuquicamata open pit ended an 10-day strike on May 12.

April 2003 - Employees at the Candelaria copper mine agreed to end a 16-day strike after accepting the company's offer on wages and benefits.

December 2003 - An 11-day strike at Codelco's Andina copper mine over wage and production-related bonuses pushed world copper prices higher.

August/September 2006 - The world's largest copper mine, Escondida, headed toward full production after the end of a prolonged strike by its 2,052 workers that forced it to declare force majeure. The 25-day strike hampered production and lifted world copper prices.

June/July 2007 - Codelco signed a deal to provide 14,000 subcontracted workers with better bonuses and benefits after a sometimes-violent strike that hit the company's El Teniente, Salvador and Andina mines. Contract workers threatened to spread protests to private companies, but the action did not materialize.

July 2007 - Union workers at Collahuasi went on strike to demand higher wages, triggering spike in the price of copper on international markets.

October/November 2009 - Union workers at BHP Billion's (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) Spence copper mine lifted a 42-day strike that generated output losses of 500 tonnes of copper per day. The mine expects to return to normal output levels in January. Dec. 10, 2009 - Union workers blocked access to Chuquicamata copper mine complex for one day over wage disagreements, halting output and costing state miner Codelco 1,820 tonnes of copper production.

Jan. 4 2010 - Union workers staged a two-day strike over pay at Chuquicamata, the world's second biggest copper mine complex, halting output. Codelco said losses were expected to be recovered in the first half of the year.

May 7, 2010- Hundreds of subcontractor blocked access road to Chile's huge Collahuasi copper mine, halting output at one of the world's top deposits.

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