The union of BHP’s remote operations center in Escondida and Spence, which together extract 20pc of Chile’s annual copper production, rejected a contract offer on Tuesday and reiterated the start of a strike on Thursday.
The impact of the strike is already being felt on copper prices with the three-month copper price on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rising by 0.70pc to reach $9,987/mt on Wednesday amid news of the scheduled strike.
Other factors that contributed to the rise in copper prices today included a softening US dollar, as well as the uncertainty generated by the new constitution in Chile and the most recent trends towards the presidential elections in Peru.
Workers at Escondida had hinted at a strike at the beginning of May citing lower benefits for rehired workers and a suspension of discussion between the management and the workers union.
BHP owns 57.5pc of Escondida’s shares. This Atacama desert mine increased production by 4pc in 2020, to reach a total of 1.18mn mt, as well as a record throughput from its concentrator, which produced 317,000mt per day on average.