“The latest offer (from the company) is too low,” union secretary Robert Pasten told Reuters. “Today, in an assembly, we will decide on the strike.”
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About 205 workers run BHP’s integrated operations center, which operates cathode and concentrator pits and factories in the north of the country from the Chilean capital Santiago.
The threat of a strike comes as copper prices remain near record highs. Escondida is the largest copper mine in the world.
Meanwhile, concerns about mining investments in South America persist as Peru’s top presidential candidate wants to impose a similar royalty on sales of proposed copper to Chile.
Chile’s lower house earlier in May approved a measure that would introduce progressive taxes on copper sales, potentially creating a total burden of more than 80% – almost double that of other major copper-producing countries.
The measure, which would come into effect in 2024, has yet to be approved by the Senate and could be blocked by the government in court.
The Senate is also considering a glacier protection bill that Reuters said could cut copper production at Codelco, a Chilean state-owned company, by 40%.
Demand in China is picking up after prices retreated from their recent record highs.
In a recent research note, Morgan Stanley said gains in metals, iron ore and grains would decline towards the end of the year after “exceeding levels that can be justified by fundamentals.”
(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters).