Peru copper miners strike, adding to Chile stoppage

 

Workers at a US-owned copper mine in Peru launched a wage strike Friday, heightening pressure on the market for the key commodity already hit by a similar stoppage in Chile (Stuttgart: 704599.SG - news) .

Some 1,200 workers downed tools at the southern Cerro Verde mine, majority-owned by Arizona-based Freeport-McMoran, said union spokesman Rommel Arias.

The miners are demanding special benefit payments to protect their incomes against a downturn in copper prices, and better working conditions.

"We have ended discussions with the company and no agreement has been reached," Arias told AFP.

"The strike starts at 7:30 am on Friday morning (1230 GMT)."

Mining sector consultant Jorge Manco calculates that production at Cerro Verde reached half a million tonnes last year, making it Peru's biggest copper mine.

Strikes at copper mines have raised concerns on international markets for the metal, a key component in electrical wiring.

Some 2,500 workers at the world's biggest copper mine, the Escondida site in Chile, have been on strike for a month for higher pay.

Analysts at British bank Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) said Thursday that prices were stable despite the Chilean strike, since the world's biggest copper consumer, China, is well stocked.

Italian bank Unicredit (EUREX: DE000A163206.EX - news) meanwhile calculated that prices were falling slightly "with no end in sight" to the Escondida dispute.