December 20, 2017 / 8:46 PM / 2 years ago

Chile's Antofagasta reaches wage agreement at Centinela mine

SANTIAGO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc said on Wednesday it had reached a new wage agreement with unionized workers at its Centinela mine, defusing the risk of a strike amid a volatile labor landscape in the world’s top copper-producing nation.

The three unions, which together represent 98 percent of the mine’s workforce of more than 1,500, agreed to a three-year contract that assures all company workers there the same benefits. The contract includes a 2 percent raise and a 14-million-peso ($22,600) bonus per worker, the company said in a statement.

“With this agreement, we end a year of successful labor negotiations,” Antofagasta Chief Executive Officer Ivan Arriagada said in the statement.

Antofagasta earlier this year struck deals with workers at its Zaldivar copper mine and with supervisors at Centinela, averting strikes in both cases.

New labor laws and rising copper prices have emboldened miners throughout Chile. A 105-member union at Teck Resources Ltd’s Quebrada Blanca mine walked off the job last Wednesday, and has yet to reach a deal with management.

Workers at BHP Billiton Plc’s Escondida mine, the world’s largest, also put down their tools for 24-hours in late November following layoffs there.

Chile’s National Mining Society (Sonami) has said more than 30 pending negotiations over expiring workers’ contracts in 2018 could curb output if strikes hit the sector.

Antofagasta’s Centinela mine, located in northern Chile, produced 236,000 tonnes of copper in 2016, the company said. ($1 = 620 Chilean pesos) (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; eiting by Jonathan Oatis)

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