SANTIAGO, June 8 Chilean state miner Codelco's
chief executive Thomas Keller was removed to avoid
"tensions" within the company but plans to contain costs and
overhaul old deposits remain intact, its president said in an
interview published on Sunday.
The world's biggest copper producer's board, reformed under
the country's new center-left president Michelle Bachelet,
announced on Friday that it was replacing Keller, seen as close
to the conservative bloc.
Keller was not removed due to any substantive disagreement,
Oscar Landerretche, an economist and academic who was tapped in
May by Bachelet to head the board, told daily newspaper La
Rather, the hot-tempered former retail executive who had
strained relations with Codelco's powerful unions was removed to
bolster unity as the miner charges ahead with a $30 billion
investment programme, Landerretche added.
"I share his vision about the company, with a few nuances,
but they're not disagreements," Landerretche said.
He praised Keller's success in pushing down costs, and said
Codelco's chief priority was ensuring that trend didn't turn.
The success of Codelco's investment plan hinges on forging
unity with workers and communities, he stressed, but added the
board was not seeking to return to the "strategic alliance"
reached with unions during past center-left administrations,
where critics said labor groups sought to block urgent reforms
that would entail lay-offs.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)