Chile´s Candelaria copper mine to suspend operations amid union strikes

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile´s Candelaria copper mine, owned by Canada's Lundin Mining LUN.TO, announced it planned to suspend operations beginning Tuesday after two of its unions called on their workers to begin strikes.

In a statement late Sunday, the company said it made the decision to halt operations to ensure the safety of its workers.

“Given the constant blockades, the attacks on our staff and facilities that put the safety of our workers at risk... Candelaria has decided to suspend its operations as of October 20,” the mine said in the statement.

Candelaria´s “Mine Union” began a strike on Oct. 8, while the “Candelaria Union” said it would walk off beginning Oct. 20. Both unions failed to reach agreement with management on new collective labor contracts.

The company reiterated in a statement its willingness to continue talks. The unions, however, have said the company has tried to impose its own conditions during the negotiations.

Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica in a statement on Monday encouraged both parties to reconvene to find a solution to the disagreement.

“I know this is difficult for them, and I think it is time to make a special effort,” he said.

Several labor negotiations at mines in Chile have helped underpin the copper price in recent weeks, raising the stakes in talks between workers and management at several key deposits.

Candelaria is a relatively small mine. It produced 111,400 tonnes of copper in 2019 and had reached 74,200 tonnes as of August this year.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Louise Heavens and Marguerita Choy