UPDATE 8-Chile’s Collahuasi, union to keep seeking strike deal

* Union, management say to keep negotiating

* Strike the longest in Chilean private copper mining
(Adds talks resume, to continue on Saturday)

By Fabian Cambero

IQUIQUE, Chile, Dec 3 (BestGrowthStock) – Chile’s giant Collahuasi
mine resumed talks with union leaders on Friday in a bid to end
a month-long strike at the world’s No. 3 copper deposit, after
a standoff over bonuses briefly stalled negotiations.

Collahuasi said it would continue talks on Saturday after
the union asked for more time for internal discussions. Talks
broke down for a few hours on Friday afternoon, with the sides
accusing each other of intransigence.

Both sides say they want to keep talking to halt what is
already the longest-ever strike among major Chilean private
copper mines, and sources close to the talks say they are close
to an agreement.

The mine said in a statement it met with union leaders late
on Friday and would resume talks the following day.

The strike entered its 29th day on Friday, now longer than
the nearly four-week 2006 stoppage at Escondida, the world’s
top copper mine.

Collahuasi is seen taking a hard position on bonuses in a
bid to weaken the union’s leadership and set a precedent.

The union says leaders of private and state mining
federations — which extract most of the copper in Chile — are
considering actions to support the strike, in a show of
strength to pressure Collahuasi.


Full coverage of mine strike [ID:nN27209201]

TIMELINE-Major Chile mine strikes [ID:nN04140477]

ANALYSIS on mines adapting to strikes [ID:nN30273440]

Graphic: http://r.reuters.com/deh22q


Management had tried to bypass the union with a direct
offer to workers, while union leaders have organized several
marches and turned to labor courts and fines for strike
defectors to keep its members united.

Collahuasi is owned by Xstrata (XTA.L: ) and Anglo American
(AAL.L: ), and extracts about 3.3 percent of global mined copper,
or 535,000 tonnes a year.

The strike is seen as one of the toughest ever faced by any
foreign miner in Chile, where labor action is usually
short-lived, but soaring copper prices have emboldened workers
to demand a bigger slice of profits.

Copper prices (CMCU3: ) rose when workers started the strike
a month ago, but have since shown little sensitivity to the
walkout, partly because the operator has kept supplies flowing
and because other factors such as the euro zone debt crisis
have taken precedence.

For weeks, Collahuasi has said operations were normal
according to a contingency plan, and has delivered copper to
buyers in Asia and Europe.

Traders say the mine had by last week probably suffered
minimal losses of about 6,000 tonnes, a little over 1 percent
of annual output.

The company said that as of last week at least 220
full-time workers, or 14 percent of union membership, had
broken with the strike and returned to work. The mine has also
hired hundreds of temporary workers and about 100 new,
permanent employees.
(Writing by Alonso Soto and Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Simon
Gardner and Peter Cooney)

UPDATE 8-Chile’s Collahuasi, union to keep seeking strike deal