Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Chile copper strike gets underway

Copper coils
Codelco is the world's biggest producer of copper

Workers at the world's second biggest copper mine have begun strike action over pay, according to union leaders.

The walk out at the Chuquicamata mine in Chile began at 0500 local time on Monday (0800 GMT).

The strike is likely to hit production at Codelco - the owner of the mine and the world's biggest copper producer.

Concerns over the strike helped to push the price of copper to a new 16-month high on Monday, building on last year's huge price rises.

The Chuquicamata mining complex produces about 4% of the world's copper, according to RBC Capital Markets, and is estimated to have produced 565,000 tonnes of copper last year.

However, analysts expect the strike action to have minimal impact on copper supplies, as previous strikes have been short-lived.

Codelco has not said how much copper it has in stock, but said it was sufficient to honour deliveries for the early part of the year.

Earlier on Monday, the price of copper reached a new 16-month high of $7,504 a tonne after rising 2% in morning trading.

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Al Jazeera Chile copper miners strike over pay - 3 hrs ago Copper miners on strike - 4 hrs ago
Arab News Chile strike pushes copper up - 12 hrs ago
Mining Weekly Chile Codelco makes offer to defuse Chuqui strike - 13 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Major Chilean copper mines go on strike - 14 hrs ago

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