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Peru: strike at Cerro Verde

Strike halts output at top Peru copper mine Cerro Verde – union
Lima – Workers at Peru's top copper mine, Freeport-McMoRan's Cerro Verde, started an indefinite strike on Friday that halted 95% of production of about 40 000 tonnes per month, the union said.

But a dispute over worker demands might be solved at a scheduled meeting between union officials and the mine's management on Monday, said Zenon Mujica, the secretary general of the union.

Workers want better family health benefits and a bigger share of the mine's profits, which Mujica said have risen on better copper prices and higher output following an expansion.

"Copper prices have improved, production has improved, but profits for workers haven't improved," said Mujica.

Freeport said in a statement that Cerro Verde was "operating and continues to engage in constructive discussions with the Union and the company's employees to address their concerns."

The company declined further comment. The stoppage is the latest disruption to global copper supplies to put pressure on prices, amid a monthlong strike at BHP Billiton's Escondida mine in Chile and a dispute over export rights at Freeport's Grasberg mine in Indonesia.

Nearly all of the 1 300 unionised workers at Cerro Verde downed tools at 7:30 am, said Mujica.

The company had planned to mitigate the impacts of the strike using 300 to 400 non-unionised workers who do not normally work in areas essential to production, said the union's deputy secretary general, Cesar Fernandez.

Freeport-McMoRan owns a 53.56% stake in Cerro Verde, which more than doubled its production of copper to nearly 500 000 t of copper last year after a major expansion.

Sumitomo Metal Mining Company Ltd controls a 21% stake in the mine, and Buenaventura has 19.58%.

The Cerro Verde union had initially scheduled a five-day strike but voted this week to stop work indefinitely, Fernandez said.

IMA – Workers at Peru's top copper mine, Freeport-McMoRan's Cerro Verde, started an indefinite strike on Friday that halted 95% of production of about 40 000 tonnes per month, the union said.