SANTIAGO, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Albemarle Corp (ALB.N), the world's top lithium producer, said on Wednesday it had reached a labor contract deal with a union at its Atacama salt flat plant, ending a month-long strike that had inflamed tensions between workers and the company.
The 135-member "Albemarle Salar" union, which comprises about half the workers at its key Salar production plant, went on strike in August after failing to reach a deal with the U.S.-based lithium miner.
The company said in a statement that it had inked a new 36-month contract with the union and that workers would return immediately to the job.
"The operations at the Salar plant today return to normality, with special emphasis on safety of workers while production returns to levels before the strike," the company said.
Throughout the strike, Albemarle maintained the extended walk-off had not hit its output of lithium from Chile.
The company clarified on Wednesday that the strike had led to a reduction in the pumping of lithium-rich brine at its Salar Plant, where the walk-off took place, but that the labor action had not impacted overall output from its La Negra chemical plant, where brines are processed into battery grade lithium carbonate.
Union representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agreement.
Albemarle's Atacama operations in Chile are a vital source of the ultralight white metal used in batteries that power electric vehicles. Competitor SQM operates nearby.
Albemarle, which struck labor deals with its three remaining Chilean guilds earlier this year, said the deal with its Salar union of workers brings closure to this year's negotiations.
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