BHP, workers union at Escondida mine in Chile to extend talks by a day

Sheets of copper cathode are pictured at BHP Billiton's Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine, in Antofagasta, Chile March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

SANTIAGO, Aug 9 (Reuters) - BHP Group Ltd (BHP.AX) and the workers union at its Escondida copper mine in Chile said late on Monday they would extend government-mediated contract talks by a day in a last-ditch effort to stave off a strike.

The long-running negotiation between the company and the powerful 2,300-member union has global copper markets on edge as demand increases and supply remains tight amid a nascent global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copper prices soared to record highs earlier this year, giving workers unions additional leverage in negotiations.

BHP said in a statement the two parties would continue talks well into the night ahead of an eventual vote by the union.

At Escondida, the world's largest mine, memories remain fresh of an historic 44-day stoppage in 2017 that jolted global copper markets and slowed Chile's economic growth.

Chile is the world's top copper producer.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Edwina Gibbs

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