Supervisors at Chile's Escondida copper mine reject final labor deal, negotiations to continue

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The union of supervisors at Chile’s Escondida mine rejected BHP’s final offer in contract negotiations on Friday, but the mining company said it would nonetheless meet again with the union in a last-ditch effort to stave off a strike.

A tally viewed by Reuters showed 78% of the union´s members voted against the offer. The union has yet to announce when a strike might begin.

The company said in a statement it would meet again with the union’s negotiators next week.

“Both parties have decided to extend the mediation for one more business day,” the mine operator said in a statement.

Copper prices have been supported recently by concern about potential strikes in Chile, the world’s biggest producer.

Escondida could continue to operate even if the supervisors walk off the job, but a strike could create bottlenecks and slowdowns.

The union and management ended five days of government mediation on Thursday after failing to reach agreements during the initial bargaining period.

Escondida, the world’s largest copper deposit, produced 1.19 million tons of copper in 2019.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero in Santiago; Editing by Aurora Ellis; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall