[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
Move to avoid Chile mine strike
Copper mine
Copper mining is a massive business
Workers at the world's largest privately-owned copper mine have given managers another chance to increase their pay offer and avoid a strike.

With a walkout due to start at the Escondida mine in Chile on Monday, staff said they wanted to avoid the strike but would not back down.

Union representatives said managers had pledged to respond by midday Friday.

Staff at the mine, which is 57.5% owned by BHP Billiton want a 13% pay rise, but have so far only been offered 3%.

The 2,000 workers are also demanding a 16m peso ($29,400; 15,500) bonus, but the mine's operators are currently only prepared to go as far as 8.1m peso, double their previous offer.

Record copper prices

Staff say they are sticking to their guns because global copper prices have hit record highs this year after a surge in demand led by China's booming economy.

Analysts said any disruption to output at Escondida, which is expected to produce 1.4 million tonnes of copper this year, may lead to copper prices rising still further on the international market.

While BHP Billiton owns almost two-thirds of the Escondida mine, fellow Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto owns 30%.

The remaining stock is held by a Japanese-led consortium, with a small stake in the hands of International Finance Corp.




SEE ALSO
Largest copper mine facing strike
03 Aug 06 |  Business
Record metal prices boost Xstrata
02 Aug 06 |  Business
Xstrata closes in on Falconbridge
31 Jul 06 |  Business
Price rises 'behind metal thefts'
22 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties
Metals hit new heights in London
10 May 06 |  Business
Copper price nears $7,000 a tonne
24 Apr 06 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific