Chilean union to seek strike at BHP's Escondida and Spence copper mines

SANTIAGO, May 25 (Reuters) - A union representing workers at BHP Group’s Escondida and Spence copper mines will seek to start a strike, it said on Tuesday, after government labor officials tried but failed to mediate an agreement.

“The (company’s) last offer is too low,” said Robert Pasten, the union’s secretary. “Today, in an assembly, we will decide about the strike.”

The 205 workers run the company’s Integrated Operations Center, which manages pits and cathode and concentrator plants in the north of the country from the Chilean capital Santiago.

The threat of a strike comes as copper prices remain close to record highs. Escondida is the world’s largest copper mine.

Contract talks have been underway since the end of March, while government-mediated talks have gone on for five days and can be extended for a further five if both parties agree.

BHP said it will seek to exhaust all dialogue opportunities.

Escondida produced 1.19 million tonnes in 2020, while Spence produced 146,700 tonnes of Chile’s total 5.7 mln tonnes.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Editing by Dan Grebler