(Adds union comment, detail)
SANTIAGO, June 9 (Reuters) - Workers at BHP Group’s Spence copper mine in Chile said on Wednesday they would extend negotiations with the company for a few more days to try to reach agreement on a new contract and avoid a strike at the operation, the union told Reuters.
The union representing 1,100 workers at the mine in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert said it hoped to reach an agreement by the end of Thursday.
“We´ll extend our talks by two more days,” a union official told Reuters late on Tuesday evening.
BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BHP is also negotiating with the union representing workers at Chile’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, which told Reuters it was keeping an open mind but also building a war chest for a potential strike.
At the same time, 200 remote workers from BHP’s Integrated Operations Center in the Chilean capital Santiago, who run Spence and Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, remain on strike after walking off the job when they failed to reach a contract agreement on May 27.
The announcement of a settlement at Spence will reduce some of the pressure on BHP. It comes as global copper prices hover near record highs and amid rising political risk in the region, with political shifts bringing potential changes to miners’ taxation and royalty regimes under way in both No. 1 copper producer Chile and neighboring Peru, the No. 2 producer.
Spence, in northern Chile, produced 146,700 tonnes of copper last year out of Chile’s total 5.7 million tonnes.
BHP said this year that it hoped a new, $2.46 billion concentrator plant at the site would extend the useful life of facility by more than 50 years and see it producing 300,000 tonnes a year by February next year. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero. Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Gerry Doyle)