Bloomberg News

Freeport, Striking Peru Copper Miners to Resume Wage Talks Today

October 03, 2011

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Peruvian copper miners were scheduled to resume wage talks as a strike entered its fifth day, while protesting workers in Indonesia rejected a government-proposed salary increase.

Workers at Freeport’s Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde SAA unit, who walked off the job at Peru’s third-largest copper producer on Sept. 29, planned to take part in government-brokered negotiations today in the city of Arequipa, 750 kilometers (466 miles) southeast of Lima, union official William Camacho said.

“Talks made no progress on Friday,” Camacho said yesterday from Arequipa. “We plan to ask the Labor Ministry to set a one-year wage increase as there’s no point in discussing a long-term accord under these conditions.”

Workers in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Indonesia have gone on strike at copper, gold and zinc mines this year, seeking improved working conditions and a bigger slice of record profits. Cerro Verde was shut for five days by stoppages last month, while a strike started at Freeport’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia on Sept. 15, raising concerns that a global metal deficit may widen and boost prices.

Copper and molybdenum concentrates haven’t been “materially affected” by the stoppage as the company is operating the Cerro Verde mine with “volunteer” personnel, Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg said in an Oct. 1 e-mailed response to questions. The mine, which produced 312,336 metric tons of copper last year, is operating at 20 percent of capacity, according to the union.

Grasberg miners Oct. 1 turned down a government-proposed 25 percent salary increase, Freeport’s condition for resuming negotiations. Workers are seeking to raise wages to $35 to $200 an hour from the current $1.50 to $3.50.

Freeport dropped 2.8 percent to $30.45 on Sept. 30 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Copper for December delivery fell 9.4 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $3.152 a pound on Sept. 30 on the Comex. On the London Metal Exchange, copper dropped $192.50, or 2.7 percent, to $6,826 a ton at 12:28 a.m. New York time.

--Editors: John Chacko, Ryan Woo

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Emery in Lima at aemery1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net


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