Metals News
UPDATE 2-Chile's Collahuasi Mine Lifts Force Majeure
industry news
May 20,2010

SANTIAGO, May 19 (Reuters) - Chile's giant Collahuasi copper mine said on Wednesday it lifted force majeure on copper shipments following a subcontractor protest that generated marginal losses for one of the world's top copper producer.

The subcontractors' protest to demand better wages and working conditions has waned on its 13th day, but union sources say hundreds of subcontractors were staying home pending a resolution of what they call their "strike movement."

Many subcontractors work on expansion projects, cooking, transportation and cleaning duties at the mine. Full-time worker and direct contractors are mostly involved in production operations.

Collahuasi, which produces 3.3 percent of the world's mined copper, resumed limited operations on Wednesday last week, a day after subcontractors lifted a blockade to the mine after police stormed the site.

Output losses amounted to about 11,300 tonnes of fine copper or 2.14 percent of its 2009 output. Those losses are equivalent to 45,000 tonnes of concentrate of copper.

The mine operator said on Tuesday operations returned to normal, but union leaders said production reached normal levels on Monday afternoon.

The mine, which is jointly owned by Anglo American (AAL.L) and Xstrata (XTA.L), produced 535,000 tonnes of copper in 2009.

A prolonged strike could delay expansion projects at the mine, union leaders said. Some in the industry fear labor troubles might spread to other mines in the world's top copper producer.

Subcontractor leaders, who said they represent about 4,000 workers, on Wednesday vowed to continue their fight.

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