SANTIAGO, June 9 (Reuters) - Workers at BHP Group's
Spence copper mine in Chile said on Wednesday they would extend
negotiations with the company for a few more days to try to
reach agreement on a new contract and avoid a strike at the
operation, the union told Reuters.
The union representing 1,100 workers at the mine in Chile's
northern Atacama Desert said it hoped to reach an agreement by
the end of Thursday.
"We´ll extend our talks by two more days," a union official
told Reuters late on Tuesday evening.
BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BHP is also negotiating with the union representing workers
at Chile's Escondida copper mine, the world's largest, which
told Reuters it was keeping an open mind but also building a war
chest for a potential strike.
At the same time, 200 remote workers from BHP's Integrated
Operations Center in the Chilean capital Santiago, who run
Spence and Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, remain on
strike after walking off the job when they failed to reach a
contract agreement on May 27.
The announcement of a settlement at Spence will reduce some
of the pressure on BHP. It comes as global copper prices hover
near record highs and amid rising political risk in the region,
with political shifts bringing potential changes to miners'
taxation and royalty regimes under way in both No. 1 copper
producer Chile and neighboring Peru, the No. 2 producer.
Spence, in northern Chile, produced 146,700 tonnes of copper
last year out of Chile's total 5.7 million tonnes.
BHP said this year that it hoped a new, $2.46 billion
concentrator plant at the site would extend the useful life of
facility by more than 50 years and see it producing 300,000
tonnes a year by February next year.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero. Additional reporting by Melanie
Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Gerry Doyle)