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Escondida names new mine head following failure of wage talks

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's Escondida named a new president to run the BHP Billiton-operated mine on Thursday, days after the company failed to clinch a wage deal with workers after an historically long strike.

Mauro Neves, a Brazilian who has worked in Vale (VALE5.SA) and Australian logistics firm Aurizon (AZJ.AX), will take over the role from April 17, the company said in a statement. It praised Neves for his knowledge of "how to mobilize teams with strategic reasoning and operational agility".

The job had been occupied since August on an interim basis by Marcelo Castillo, who will now become responsible for integrated operations at Escondida.

The outcome of the Escondida wage dispute was seen as heavily negative for BHP, which has been left with an estimated $1 billion loss, will need months to ramp up to full output again, and will have to return to talks in a year or so in a likely weaker position.

BHP (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) has a controlling interest in Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine. Rio Tinto (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) and Japanese companies hold smaller stakes.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by James Dalgleish)