The Escondida copper mine in Chile plans to restart operations after striking workers again rejected an invitation by controlling owner BHP Billiton to return to negotiations, an executive told reporters late Tuesday.
The world’s largest copper mine will first resume work in two areas of the mine that are unrelated to the current talks, Escondida Mine President Marcelo Castillo said at a news conference in the city of Antofagasta.
The company will then begin to do additional maintenance work, before finally re-establishing mining operations and restarting copper production. “We hope that in some way opportunities for dialogue come about…but with the posture that we saw yesterday (from the union) and that all of you saw yesterday, it’s difficult to be able to hope for a conversation in the short term,” Castillo said.
Under Chilean law the mine was allowed to hire temporary workers 15 days after the strike started on Feb. 9, but had said it would wait for 30 days to show its commitment to dialogue. Tuesday marked day 34 of the strike.
In response to BHP’s statement late Tuesday, the union said it was taking a level-headed approach to the latest development.
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