UPDATE 3-Chile Collahuasi ops still limited as strike goes on

Thu May 13, 2010 12:55pm EDT

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 * Mine operations remain limited, seen normal at weekend
 * Subcontractors stay away from mine, agree to talks
 * No damage to major mine machinery
 (Updates with force majeure still in place)
 By Alonso Soto and Simon Gardner
 SANTIAGO, May 13 (Reuters) - Operations at Chile's giant
Collahuasi copper mine remained limited on Thursday but could
return to normal by the weekend, despite a subcontractor strike
entering its seventh day.
 Collahuasi on Wednesday resumed limited operations after
subcontractors lifted a blockade to the mine and continued
their protest elsewhere, with the next round of talks scheduled
for Monday.
 Subcontractors left the mine on Tuesday night to avoid
clashes with police. The Collahuasi mine produces 3.3 percent
of the world's mined copper.
 "Yesterday we started limited operations," said Collahuasi
spokeswoman Bernardita Fernandez. "We started them without the
subcontractors, which means at the moment we don't need them to
start operations."
  She said a declaration force majeure, a contract clause
that enables it to default on delivery obligations, announced
on Wednesday still remained in effect. It was unclear how long
it would remain in place.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 ANALYSIS-Chile copper may take hit on protest [ID:nN11103356]
 TIMELINE of Chile's major mining strikes      [ID:nN1199411]
 FACTBOX of Chile copper labor contracts       [ID:nLDE60A1JH]
 FACTBOX on Chile's giant Collahuasi mine      [ID:nN1198815]
 Map: Chile top copper mines link.reuters.com/zad85j
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
 Manuel Munoz, leader of the union that represents full-time
staff at the deposit, said operations could be back to normal
during the weekend or by Monday and that there was no damage to
major mine machinery during the protest.
 Daily El Mercurio reported on Thursday that subcontractors
had damaged roads and taken away food and vehicles from the
deposit.
 STRIKE GOES ON, BUT TALKS LOOM
 Subcontractor union leader and spokesman Victor Reyes said
the strikers had agreed to talks with the company on Monday
mediated by local authorities in the far northern region of
Tarapaca, and said the strike would continue until then.
 "We will sit down with them Monday," Reyes said. "But
discussions will be based exclusively on issues discussed at
the table when (previous) talks broke down."
 "The strike will go on. Everyone is very expectant about
what is going to happen. We will decide on our next measures
(after the talks)."
 Collahuasi, which produced 535,000 tonnes of copper last
year, was forced to halt operations on Saturday, a day after
hundreds of subcontractors blocked access to the mine with
burning tires and rocks to demand better working conditions and
pay.
 Port officials at the mine's exporting port of Puerto
Patache said on Wednesday that shipments had not been affected
by the protest and that a ship was waiting to be loaded with
copper from the mine.
 Global miners Anglo American (AAL.L) and Xstrata XTA.L
each own a 44 percent stake in Collahuasi. A Japanese
consortium led by Mitsui & Co (8031.T) is a minority
stakeholder.
 Mining companies face a growing risk of more protests if
they fail to raise benefits and improve conditions for
thousands of part-time workers who are needed for operations in
a country that extracts a third of the world's mined copper.
 However, Chile's Codelco, the world's top copper producer,
said on Thursday there no signs of problems with its own
subcontractors following the protest at Collahuasi.
 Codelco Chief Executive Officer Jose Pablo Arellano said
operations were normal. [ID:nN13271313]
 (Editing by Lisa Shumaker)


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