Escondida Copper Miners Accept New Labor Contract

Workers at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s Escondida unit in Chile voted in favor of a new labor contract, averting a strike at the world’s largest copper mine.

Almost 60 percent of workers voted in favor of the deal that will replace a contract expiring June 30, according to a post on the union’s Twitter account today.

BHP, the 57.5 percent owner of Escondida, will boost output at the mine by 20 percent in the fiscal year ended June, the Melbourne-based company said Jan. 23. Rio Tinto Group owns 20 percent of Escondida and a Japanese group headed by Mitsubishi Corp. owns the rest.

The accord averts a potential strike at the mine in the Atacama Desert that accounts for almost a fifth of output from Chile, the world’s largest copper-producing nation.

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