SANTIAGO Feb 3 Workers at BHP Billiton's
Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world's
biggest, prepared to re-enter dialogue with the company on
Friday, after BHP solicited government mediation in a bid to
avoid a strike.
Unionized workers at the mine this week rejected the last
company wage offer and voted for a work stoppage.
However, the union said late Thursday night that the company had
asked for mediation by Chile's Labor Directorate which
effectively extends negotiations and pushes back the start of a
In a statement, the union said that further talks could be
fruitful only if the company improved upon its offer
"We reiterate that there will be no possibility of an
agreement if the company maintains its position of reducing
remuneration and additionally separating the conditions for new
and old workers," the union said.
A possibility of a strike at the massive mine, which the
union has warned could be lengthy, has pushed up the price of
copper in recent days.
Escondida produced 1.15 million tonnes of the metal in 2015,
about 6 percent of the world's total. It is majority controlled
by BHP, with Rio Tinto , and Japan's JECO
also owning stakes.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Gram Slattery)