Workers at Chile's Spence copper mine to extend negotiations

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Workers at Chile's Spence copper mine to extend negotiations

SANTIAGO, 9 June - Workers at the BHP Group's Spence Copper Mine in Chile said on Wednesday that they would extend negotiations with the company for a few more days to try to reach agreement on a new contract and avoid a strike at the operation, the union told Reuters.

The union representing 1,100 workers at the Atacama Desert Mine said it hoped to reach an agreement by the end of Thursday.

We will increase our talks to two more days, the union official told Reuters late Tuesday evening.

BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment by having first answered a question.

BHP is also negotiating with the union representing workers at the Chilean Escondida copper mine, the largest in the world, which told Reuters that it kept an open mind but also built a war chest for a potential strike.

At the same time, 200 Chilean workers from Integrated Operations Center in the Chilean capital Santiago, who run Spence and Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, remain on strike after walking off the job when they failed to reach a contract on 27 May.

The announcement of a settlement at BHP would reduce some pressure on Spence. It comes as global copper prices hover near record highs and amid rising political risk in the region, with political shifts bringing potential changes to miners' taxation and royalty regimes under way in both No. Peru and neighboring Chile, the No. 1 copper producer 2 producer.

In northern Chile, Spence produced 146,700 tonnes of copper the same year out of Chile's total 5.7 million tonnes.

BHP said this year that it hoped a new, $2.46 billion concentrator plant at the site would extend the useful life of the facility by more than 50 years and will produce 300,000 tonnes a year by February next year. Fabian Cambero writes the report by Fabian Cambero. Additional reporting by Jacqueline Wong in MELBOURNE ; Editing by Melanie Burton and Gerry Doyle in MELBOURNE

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