* Anglo had halted operations on Monday due to violent
* Los Bronces operations to be normalized by end of the day
* Protest highlights tensions with contract workers
(Adds trader and analyst comments)
SANTIAGO, March 25 Anglo American Plc is
restarting operations at its Los Bronces copper mine in central
Chile following a brief but violent protest by contract workers,
a spokesman told Reuters early Tuesday.
"Shift workers are already going up to the mine to be able
to restart operations," said Marcelo Esquivel, Anglo American's
spokesman in Chile.
The mine should be operating normally by the end of the day,
he said, adding there was no estimate of how the stoppage had
hurt production. A Chile-based trader said the stoppage had been
too brief to impact the market.
Los Bronces, perched high in the Andes near Santiago,
produced 416,300 tonnes of red metal last year, roughly 7
percent of world No.1 copper producer Chile's overall output.
In the early hours of Monday, contract workers launched a
protest over what they claim are layoff threats and the
London-listed miner's refusal to negotiate a series of demands.
A union representative said workers turned to violence because
their demands hadn't been listened to.
The demonstrators set tires on fire, damaged installations
and looted during the protest, according to Anglo. The protests
ebbed on Monday night, allowing Anglo to restart operations.
Contract worker representatives and Anglo American are
negotiating, a spokesman for the CTC mining union told Reuters
He said there was interest in clinching a deal, but that
launching fresh labor action remained on the cards if an
agreement proves elusive.
The labor action highlights growing tensions with contract
workers, who are usually paid less than their staff counterparts
for similar work, at a time when Chile's mining boom is losing
Anglo owns 50.1 percent of the deposit. Chilean state miner
Codelco and Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co
and Mitsubishi Corp also have stakes in the
Copper didn't appear to react strongly to the brief
Prices rose to the highest level in nearly a week on
Tuesday, supported in part by prospects that big commodities
consumer China will act to support its slowing economy, and
ahead of key U.S. data later in the session.
Still, the Chile stoppage "also appear to have helped lend
copper some support," analyst Leon Westgate at Standard Bank
wrote in a note to clients.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)