SMM7: BHP Billiton said that affected by the epidemic, Chile's Escondida copper mine has offered some workers the option of early retirement, but this has been strongly condemned by trade unions as disguised layoffs, especially those who are old, weak and disabled.
The union said it would closely monitor the plan to ensure that all (2372) union workers would not be laid off during the outbreak.
Copper production at the Escondida mine fell 5.6 per cent in May from a year earlier to 93400 tonnes.
The controversy comes as a new crown outbreak has broken out in most parts of Chile, with more than 300000 cases recorded and more than 6500 deaths.
With the increase in new crown confirmed cases, copper prices have been very strong recently, and increased supply-side disturbances may lead to copper supply shortages this year.
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