Strike threat lifted at BHP’s Cerro Colorado mine after contract deal

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SANTIAGO — A union at Chile’s Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile has struck a collective contract deal with mine operators BHP after five days of government-led mediation, the company said on Saturday in a statement.

The agreement with Union No. 1 would be valid for 36 months and includes a series of improvements on the previous contract, BHP said.

“This collective agreement is very good news and reflects the collaborative spirit of the parties, which will allow us to continue more united than ever, to face the uncertain future of Cerro Colorado,” said the mine’s general manager, Alejandro Heilbron.

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It comes after the union last month voted to reject an earlier offer by the company, prompting a period of mandatory mediation in a bid to stave off a strike. Last month BHP also struck a deal with workers at its massive Escondida mine that led to record-breaking benefits.

It also comes at a decisive moment for Cerro Colorado’s operations, with the company due to hear on September 14 whether the First Environmental Court in the northern city of Antofagasta will agree to suspend a ban on the mine extracting water from a nearby aquifer that was due to come into force on Oct. 1 following complaints https://www.reuters.com/article/chile-mining-bhp-idUSL1N2PQ2KE of environmental damage by local residents.

Cerro Colorado produced about 1.2% of the South American nation’s total copper output in 2020.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Daniel Wallis)