Company News

Grupo Mexico controls Cananea, union fights on

MEXICO CITY, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Grupo Mexico said on Wednesday it is still in full control of its Cananea mine and a court decision won by the national miners’ union is not valid for the resumption of a strike at Mexico’s biggest copper pit.

The union, which went on strike at Cananea nearly three years ago, said last week a state court granted workers an appeal to reverse their eviction from the installations in June.

But the company and Mexico’s Labor Ministry says the appeal has no bearing on the mine’s operations, which are in the process of being cleaned and repaired to resume copper output by the end of this year or the beginning of 2011.

“(The court) issued a suspension that cannot be applied,” a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

The company retook control of the mine, with the help of federal police, when workers lost a long-running court battle with the company.

Grupo Mexico GMEXICOB.MX argued Cananea was in force majeure because of damages from disuse and sabotage, which gave the company the right to terminate contractual obligations with the miners.

The most recent appeal won by the union in Sonora, where the mine is located in northern Mexico, is to block “the imminent eviction of the plaintiffs from their place of work,” the Labor Ministry said.

“The Court determined that the suspension granted has no effect if the (eviction) had already been implemented,” the Ministry said in an Aug. 12 statement in response to the appeal.

The government and the company both say the union’s contract remains suspended.

The union says the legality of the strike has not been resolved in court and pledges to continue its fight at Cananea. Unionized workers have tried to block the entrance of contract workers into the mine. (Reporting by Jason Lange; Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)