Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) –Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX)'s Peruvian copper miners began the first of a series of strikes planned over pay increases, a union official said.
About 1,200 workers at Freeport's Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde SAA (CVERDEC1) unit, Peru's third-largest copper producer, began the 48-hour strike at 8:30 a.m. New York time and will hold a second strike from Sept. 14 if no accord is reached, union official William Camacho said by telephone. Workers at Freeport's Grasberg mine in Indonesia also may strike starting Sept. 15.
"Freeport unions around the world seek to raise their wages to the same level as the rest of the mining industry," Camacho said today from Lima. "We seek the company's respect for the workers as they aren't complying with our labor pact."
Workers in Peru, Chile and Bolivia have gone on strike at copper, gold and zinc mines this year for better working conditions and a bigger share of record company earnings. Shougang Corp.'s Peru iron-ore miners began a strike Aug. 31.
Phoenix-based Freeport will continue negotiating a new labor contract, spokesman Eric Kinneberg said yesterday in an e- mailed response to questions. Cerro Verde, which is studying a $3.5 billion expansion to boost annual output 45 percent, boosted first-half output by 4 percent to 161,246 metric tons.
Copper futures for December delivery gained 6.1 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $4.117 a pound at 9:50 a.m. on the Comex in New York. A close at that price would mark the biggest gain since Aug. 31.
Copper Output Decline
Peru is the world's third-largest copper producer behind Chile and China. Chile, which accounts for a third of global supply, may have lost 8 percent of estimated 2011 output because of strikes at mines owned by Codelco and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), Codelco Chief Executive Officer Diego Hernandez said Aug. 12. Chile produced 5.42 million metric tons of copper last year.
Mine production is set to lag behind demand by 256,000 metric tons in 2011, a second year of deficit, according to Citigroup Inc. Prices have more than doubled since the end of 2008 as demand increased in China, the world's top consumer.
Freeport rose 66 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $45.02 at 10:36 a.m. in New York trading. Cerro Verde fell 83 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $38.12 in Lima.