X

This is not a paywall.

Register for free to continue reading.

We made a promise to you that we’ll never erect a paywall and we intend to keep that promise. We also want to continually improve your reading experience and you can help us do that by registering with us. It’s quick, easy and will cost you nothing.



Nearly there! Create a password to finish up registering with us:


Please enter your password or get a login link if you’ve forgotten


Open Sesame! Thanks for registering.

First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Global Copper Supply at Risk As Workers Vote to Strike

Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Global Copper Supply at Risk As Workers Vote to Strike

Workers of the Escondida copper mine protest during a strike outside BHP Billiton's offices, in Santiago, on May 27, 2021. Photographer: Javier Torres/AFP/Getty Images
By Bloomberg
02 Aug 2021 0

A tightening global copper market is facing the real possibility of simultaneous strike disruptions at three mines in Chile, the top producer.

By far the most serious threat to global supplies comes from Escondida, the biggest copper mine in the world, where workers rejected owner BHP Group’s final wage offer in voting last week. Unless the two sides can reach a deal in government-mediated talks this week, the market may be left without production from a project that last year churned out 1.2 million metric tons.Two other smaller mines — Codelco’s Andina and JX Nippon Mining & Metals’ Caserones — are in the same situation as a country that accounts for more than a quarter of global copper navigates a slew of collective bargaining at a particularly sensitive time in the metals cycle and in Chilean politics.
Related Coverage

The labor tensions are intensifying just as trillions of dollars in government stimulus fuel demand for industrial metals. Copper futures have gained over the past two weeks after retreating from an all-time high in May. On Monday, prices advanced as much as 0.6% to $9,787 a ton on London Metal Exchange, and traded at $9,750 at 10:47 a.m. in Shanghai.

The windfall enjoyed by producers is emboldening mine workers, with host nations also looking at ratcheting up taxes to help resolve inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic. In Chile, that’s all playing out as the nation drafts a new constitution that may lead to tougher rules on water, glaciers, mineral and community rights, with presidential elections in November.

At the same time, companies are striving to keep labor costs in check in a cyclical business and as ore quality deteriorates and input prices start to rise.

Host nations are looking at ways to extract more from high copper prices

In last week’s vote, members rejected BHP’s proposal by an overwhelming 99.5%. Union leaders say the company is dangling large one-time bonuses in exchange for longer hours and new demands in a bid to boost productivity and profit. BHP said its proposal included better conditions and new benefits and that it remains open to dialog.

“We hope that this strong vote will be the decisive wake-up call for BHP to initiate substantive discussions to reach satisfactory agreements, if it wants to avoid a lengthy conflict that could be the costliest in the country’s union history,” the union said.

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted