Operations resume at one Chile port, others still blocked

Reuters

SANTIAGO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Operations at the key northern Chilean port of Angamos resumed on Wednesday after access to the area was unblocked, freeing up some copper to be exported.

Workers at Angamos went on strike more than two weeks ago to seek stronger union rights. The stoppage then spread to other ports, harming fruit and copper shipments in the world's top red metal producer.

Around 110 workers at Angamos returned to work on Wednesday morning and port operations should return to normal in the next few days, port operator Ultraport said in a statement.

Though some workers opted to return to work, the strike is still on. Calls to the union went unanswered.

The stoppages have blocked some of world No. 1 copper miner Codelco's copper exports and have sliced $130 million off the miner's December income, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

Codelco is the main mining exporter at Angamos.

Glencore Xstrata's said it has not been affected by the stoppages. Global miners Anglo American and BHP Billiton declined to comment. Requests for comment from the Mining Ministry went unanswered.

Copper is not time-sensitive and material can be sent at a later date. Still, stoppages disrupt the metal market and can ruffle client-provider relationships.

Export-dependent Chile is also a big exporter of fruits, which are chiefly grown in the fertile central region and risk going bad if they're stuck in ports for too long.

Farmers and exporters are fretting about the stoppage at the central port of San Antonio, where workers have also launched a strike to seek retroactive lunch subsidies.

Chile would lose around $80 million dollars if no fruit is shipped out of San Antonio this month, Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol said on Wednesday.

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