Codelco Headed for Possible Strike at Gabriela Mistral

- January 22nd, 2019

Union leaders say an offer made to them by the company during negotiations about bonuses has been voted down.

Union leaders at Chilean state-miner Codelco’s Gabriela Mistral mine have voted against a new labor agreement at the company’s sixth-largest mine, with strike action looming.

As reported by Reuters on Tuesday (January 22), an offer made during negotiations over bonuses has been voted down.

“We have rejected their proposal and have voted to strike,” said Ana Catalan, union president.

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Gabriela Mistral, located in Sierra Gorda has been operational since 2008, and in 2017 produced 122,737 tonnes of copper — well behind Codelco’s largest mine, El Teniente, which produced 464,328 tonnes in the same year.

According to Reuters, members of the union at Gabriela Mistral want higher bonuses, and have been discussing differences in bonuses between different unions at Codelco’s mines.

Codelco is yet to respond to news that the union has voted to strike; under Chilean law, government mediation must take place over five days before workers are legally allowed to down their tools.

Codelco has been busy negotiating with unions over the past few months; in early December it struck a deal with workers at its Ministro Hales mine — Codelco’s newest operation, and the next mine up Codelco’s list of producing assets in regards to output.

Later that month, the company sought to allay fears of spotfire strikes at its second-largest operation, Chuquicamata, telling media that strikes were not affecting production.

Looking at the copper price in 2019, the red metal has so far risen about US$6,000 a tonne on only one day this year — though of course its still very early.

As of January 21 copper was trading at US$5,951 a tonne — 1.9 percent above its 2019 starting point of US$5,838. Over 2018, it had lost more than 16 percent of its value after starting that year up in the clouds at US$7,180.5 per tonne.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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