Chile braces for potential strike at Escondida copper mine – by Antonio De la Jara (Reuters U.S. – August 13, 2018)

Aug 13 (Reuters) – Chile’s copper industry on Monday braced for the announcement of a potential strike at the world’s biggest copper mine, Escondida, as government-led mediation is expected to close by day’s end.

Escondida’s union and the mine’s owner, Anglo-Australian firm BHP , have until Monday evening to agree to a contract deal in tense negotiations that have been closely watched by other miners and international markets.

The negotiations have been held under tight wraps, but a union source told Reuters that “all will be known today” about negotiations at Escondida, which last year produced 925,400 tonnes of copper, almost 17 percent of the country’s total.

Last year, a 44-day walk-out at the mine had a global impact and slashed economic growth in the South American country, which is also the world’s top copper producer overall.

In its last known offer more than two weeks ago, BHP offered a signing bonus of about $18,000, plus separate bonuses intended to buy out clauses in a previous contract that allowed for housing benefits and a loan program.

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