SANTIAGO, Aug 25 (Reuters) – The workers’ union at BHP’s Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile has called on its members to reject a final contract offer by the company, paving the way for a strike at the small deposit, the group’s leadership told Reuters.
The labor tensions come shortly after a court ordered the mine to cease pumping from a reservoir that supplies it with fresh water, citing environmental concerns and slowing progress on a key mine maintenance project.
Union leader Marcelo Franco said BHP had used the regulatory issues it faces as an excuse to lowball workers with an inadequate contract proposal.
“We are calling to vote for a strike,” Franco said.
If the union rejects the contract, Chilean law allows the parties to request government-led mediation for up to 10 days in an effort to reach an agreement and stave off a strike.
BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The global miner recently struck a deal with workers at its massive Escondida mine that resulted in record-breaking benefits, an outcome that will likely raise the bar at Cerro Colorado and elsewhere in world top copper producer Chile.
Cerro Colorado, a small mine in BHP’s Chilean portfolio, produced about 1.2% of the South American nation’s total copper output in 2020. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood)