November 8, 2013 / 5:20 PM / 4 years ago

Barrick Chile mine workers say sign contract, drop strike threat

SANTIAGO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Workers at Barrick Gold Corp’s suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine in Chile signed a new contract on Friday, dropping a strike threat that could have delayed crucial construction of a water management system, a union leader told Reuters.

The deal also includes an unspecified number of layoffs, according to the union, in the wake of the decision by the world’s largest gold producer last week to shelve the controversial project.

“Today we signed the contract proposal ... which was accepted by 96 percent of votes,” said Alexis Spencer, the union’s president. “The company confirmed there will be layoffs,” he added.

Toronto-based Barrick did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Both Chile’s Supreme Court and environmental regulator SMA had already halted the mine, which straddles the Chilean and Argentine border, until new infrastructure is built to avoid water pollution.

Last May, Chile’s regulator told Reuters that it would be one to two years at the earliest before Pascua-Lama would be reactivated, given the time it will take to build the water management system.

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