Record Profits At Mining Companies Lead To More Strikes

Record mining company profits are resulting in more strikes as mine workers demand a bigger slice of their employers' earnings, the international credit ratings agency Fitch said Aug. 24.

While strikes have affected mining companies in all mineral segments, the copper sector seems to have been affected more than most, it said

The most high profile dispute is the current strike at the Escondida mine in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, which last year accounted for approximately 8.5% of total worldwide copper production. Escondida is majority-owned by BHP Billiton, which posted a record annual net profit of $10.45 billion on Aug. 23 and delivered an upbeat outlook amid unprecedented global demand for commodities.

With several other major copper producers understood to be renegotiating labor contracts over the next few months, further industrial action is likely to result, it said.

Over the past two to three years mining companies worldwide have benefited from booming demand for commodities driven by growth in China as the vast country goes through the process of industrialization, said the ratings agency.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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