May 4, 2011 / 12:16 AM / 8 years ago

Miners at Argentina's San Jose to return to work

* Miners set to resume work early on Wednesday

* Gov’t orders 15 days talks in bid to resolve pay dispute

BUENOS AIRES, May 3 (Reuters) - Striking workers at an Argentine silver-gold mine controlled by Hochschild Mining (HOCM.L) will go back to work on Wednesday after the government ordered compulsory conciliation, a union leader said on Tuesday.

Miners at the San Jose mine, which lies in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, downed tools on April 19 to press for higher wages. Inflation is running at 25 percent in Argentina, according to private estimates, stoking pay demands.

“We’re abiding by the Labor Ministry’s compulsory conciliation order and people will start working again at 8 a.m. (1100 GMT) tomorrow,” Javier Castro, a representative from the Argentine Mining Labor Association (AOMA) told Reuters.

He said the government had ordered 15 working days of negotiations between the union and the mine operators.

Hochschild, which holds a 51 percent stake in the San Jose joint venture, said the protest halted production at the mine, which it jointly owns with Canada’s Minera Andes MAI.TO.

San Jose produced 5.3 million ounces of silver and 84.3 thousand ounces of gold in 2010, according to the company’s website. (Reporting by Helen Popper; Editing by Richard Chang) (helen.popper@thomsonreuters.com; +54 11 4318 0655; Reuters Messaging: helen.popper.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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