November 12, 2019 / 3:04 PM / 9 months ago

Chilean copper mines struggle on despite protest road blocks and shift delays

SANTIAGO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Most of Chile's copper miners said they had maintained their operations on Tuesday, albeit with some delays and sporadic unrest, amid calls for a general strike and a fresh day of social protests, unions and management teams told Reuters.

To date, copper production in the world's largest producer of the red metal has not been significantly hurt by more than three weeks of protests pushing demands for improvements in pensions, health and education.

Public sector workers, students and other trade union groups called for a general strike on Tuesday, although they guaranteed that sectors such as fuel production and supply would not be affected.

In Calama, the city seen as the gateway to the Atacama Desert which is home to some of Chile's principal copper deposits, barricades blocked some roads and the entry of workers' buses and trucks to some sites.

The Collahuasi union, an association between Anglo American and Glencore, announced a march outside the mine but output would not be hit, according to a union leader.

BHP operations, which include the vast Escondida mine, continued to operate, according to sources.

Anglo American said its mines El Soldado and Los Bronces were experiencing delays and access issues due to roadblocks, but it was still functioning normally.

The Mining Federation, which represents several private mines, said some mines including Los Bronces had experienced stoppages amid the call for a general strike.

Caserones, owned by Japanese-run Lumina Copper, has maintained minimal operations, the firm said. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio)

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