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UPDATE 1-Workers at Antofagasta's Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile accept contract offer

(Adds union comment, background)

SANTIAGO, March 23 (Reuters) - Workers at Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile have accepted a contract offer and abandoned the threat of a strike, the union said on Tuesday.

Members of the union voted 70.65% in favor and 29.35% against accepting the contract offer, union secretary Luis Silva said.

“We are pleased with the work we have done but should also acknowledge the efforts of the company in reaching this agreement,” said Silva.

Negotiations over the 36-month contract have been lengthy and at times fractious, with members voting to reject a previous offer and strike on March 9.

However, two weeks of government-led mediation resulted in a deal at the massive deposit in Los Vilos, 140 miles north of Santiago.

A recent spike in copper prices to the highest in a decade has generated worries in the industry of a tense year of collective bargaining that may put pressure on costs.

Chile’s copper industry was one of the sectors least impacted by the swathe of movement restrictions introduced to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the country which has to date seen 950,000 confirmed cases and 22,000 deaths.

Los Pelambres produced 372,100 tonnes of copper in 2020, equivalent to around 6% of top copper producer Chile’s total output. (Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio)

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