SANTIAGO, April 6 Most ports in Chile were
returning to normal operations on Saturday after an extended
strike that slammed the No. 1 copper producer's exports, but the
central port of San Antonio remained closed, a union leader told
Reuters on Saturday night.
If workers at San Antonio do not reach a deal by Tuesday,
the rest of port workers will resume their strike in solidarity,
Richard Orellana, head of the Angamos port union, told Reuters.
Workers at the key port of Angamos in the mineral-rich north
returned to work on Saturday as of 3:30 p.m. local time (1830
GMT), he said.
Calls to the San Antonio union went unanswered. Local media
quoted the agriculture minister as saying the port would return
to normal activities on Sunday.
Mining industry sources say it will take weeks to return to
normal shipping operations because of the congestion in ports.
Other Chilean ports had joined the strike in Angamos, which
started roughly three weeks ago.
Angamos workers walked off the job to seek a 30-minute lunch
break and other benefits. That dispute over relatively minor
issues escalated into a crisis for export-dependent Chile.
The stoppage proved a major headache for many of Chile's
miners, who extract roughly a third of the world's copper. The
metal provides around 60 percent of Chile's export revenue,
estimated at $79.8 billion this year.
The strike halted around 9,000 tonnes of copper from leaving
Chilean ports every day, the government has said.
The Andean country lost more than $200 million a day due to
the strike, according to the country's business chamber.
For more on the port strike, please see: