Workers at Chilean state copper giant Codelco's massive Chuquicamata mine could approve the company's proposed new labour contract in a vote on Saturday, a union leader said.
"We've reached an initial agreement with the company. We hope this deal is approved to maintain labor tranquility at Chuquicamata," Jaime Graz, spokesperson for Union 1 at the mine, told Reuters on Friday.
"We're going to recommend approving the proposal," he added.
Most unionised workers at Codelco's century-old Chuquicamata deposit voted to start early contract negotiations in November.
Thomas Keller, CE of Codelco, the world's No 1 copper producer, told Reuters earlier this month that the company was hopeful it would reach a new labour deal at the mine.
The current contract at Chuquicamata, which produced about 443 000 t of copper in 2011, is set to expire on February 28.
The new, four-year contract would grant workers a 3.7% yearly wage increase and give them a bonus package of about $42 000, including about $6 330 in cheap credit.
Collective labour talks are closely watched by the mining industry after an uptick in labour action hit Chile's copper output in 2011. During the last contract negotiations in 2009/10, Chuquicamata's union staged a two-day strike.
Chuquicamata is symptomatic of Chile's aging mines. The deposit's production has been cut in half since 2007 by sharply dwindling ore grades, while costs have doubled.
The mine's transformation into an underground operation will trigger layoffs, but the union said health benefits were the key issue in negotiations.
In late November, unionised workers at the world's biggest copper mine, Chile's Escondida, voted in favour of early labour talks with the mine's controller, global miner BHP Billiton .
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter