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Strike at Chile's Escondida mine is unjustifiable, says BHP

Kitco News

SANTIAGO, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Mining giant BHP Group said that a recently announced strike at Chile's Escondida mine, the world's largest copper mine, was unjustifiable as the company complies with safety standards and contractual commitments.

Escondida workers announced on Tuesday they decided to go on strike on Nov. 21 and 23 due to labor demands after their union, Sindicato 1, expressed concerns over security in the mine located in northern Chile.

"Escondida is fully complying with legal regulations and the current collective agreement - matters for which it is constantly being monitored by authorities," BHP said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"There is no justification for the forceful action announced by one of the company's existing unions," it added.

The union said workers would stop all shifts during both days for "non-compliance, infractions and violations," but noted that minimum services required at the site during the days of protest would be guaranteed.

The company said the move was aimed at pressuring it for the payment of a contribution to the union and a bonus to its partners, which it said had no legal basis.

BHP added that it was open to dialogue and hopeful that the union would end the stoppage.

The Australia-based miner and the union have faced off before, including in 2017, when workers went on strike for more than 40 days while renegotiating contracts. BHP controls Minera Escondida, which manages the mine.

(Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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