Chile's Codelco Declares Force Majeure at Key Copper Mine

Codelco, the world's number one copper producer, is losing a "relevant" amount of output due to a two-day-old strike at its Radomiro Tomic open pit mine in northern Chile, the company said on Sunday, branding the work stoppage illegal.

Miners tossed down their tools on Saturday to demand that the pit bosses they blame for the recent death of a miner be fired. By Sunday the pit bosses were still with the company and negotiations with the striking workers had not begun, but the mine's general manager had resigned.

The company late on Saturday declared force majeure at Radomiro Tomic, which produced about one-fourth the company's output last year. Company executives called a news conference on Sunday to say that they were willing to negotiate with the striking workers to end the strike.

Miner Nelson Barria died in a March 23 landslide at Radomiro Tomic, which was Codelco's most productive mine last year with 428,000 tonnes of copper produced.

The local miners union says the work stoppage will continue until a solution is reached.

Codelco's output skidded 5.1 percent last year due to dwindling performance at its massive, ageing deposits in northern Chile, which dragged down production to its lowest level since 2008.