Escondida Deal Hopes Fade as Sides Give Contradicting Views – by Danielle Bochove, Laura Millan Lombrana and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – February 27, 2017)

Copper traders were left confused over the state of play at the world’s top copper mine: the owner said wage talks had resumed, while the union said striking workers have had no contact with management for a week.

“The good news is that we are back around the table and things are starting to come together in some form of a negotiation,” BHP Billiton Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “Let’s wait and see, and others I’m sure will update you on the progress of those talks.”

While BHP-owned Escondida declined to comment further, the union said a meeting last Monday organized by Chilean labor authorities was the last time the two sides have sat down together. Escondida halted output on Feb. 9 after a month of talks failed to produce a wage accord.

“It is absolutely not true,” union spokesman Carlos Allendes said about Mackenzie’s remarks. “He is either misleading public opinion or someone is not informing him correctly. We have not been invited to participate in anything.” Copper swung between gains and losses Monday before the three-month contract settled up 0.1 percent at $5,934 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.

“Copper traders are voting with their feet that a resolution to the strike isn’t close as the red metal finishes near highs despite mixed messages from BHP and union leaders,” Tai Wong, director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets, said in an e-mail.

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