SANTIAGO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - A union representing workers at
BHP's Escondida mine in Chile, the world's largest
copper mine, said on Friday the firm had been erratic and
irresponsible as COVID-19 infections have risen among the
"We consider that the company has been erratic, dismissive
and irresponsible in the responses it has given us, emphatically
denying, on the afternoon of January 14, that there was an
outbreak of COVID-19," the union said in a statement.
The mining company reported earlier this week there were 312
cases affecting workers and contractors, who have been
quarantined, but declined to offer details on the possible
impact on its operations.
Escondida declined to comment on the union's statements.
Chile is experiencing a record surge in COVID-19 cases
driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. Deaths,
however, have remained low as Chile has one of the highest
vaccination rates in the world.
Chile is also the world's top producer of copper.
The union said Escondida had "eliminated and dangerously
relaxed protocols and control measures," weakening the company's
ability to trace the origin of cases.
The company said in an earlier statement it had applied
rigorous measures in line with the requirements of the health
authority and said 90% of its workforce has been fully
vaccinated against the virus.
(Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Writing by Carolina
Pulice; Editing by Chris Reese)