BHP ends talks with strikers at world’s largest copper mine

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Talks have collapsed between mining giant BHP Billiton and striking workers at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, turning it into the longest mining strike in the country since 1973.

The strike entered its 43rd day after talks on Wednesday between the 2,500-member union at the world’s largest copper mine and BHP ended without any deal. BHP said its settlement offer will remain in force until March 28 after which it will be withdrawn.

“The company hopes that, within the next few days, Union Number 1 will formally accept or reject the offer,” BHP said in a statement. “In either case, the company will, as indicated previously, continue to focus on resuming operations.”

Copper output has been suspended at the mine since Feb. 9, making it the longest strike since workers walked out at the El Teniente mine in April 1973 before a military coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in September.

A strike at the BHP-owned Spence mine in 2009 lasted for 41 days, according to consultancy CRU.

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