| ANTOFAGASTA, Chile
ANTOFAGASTA, Chile Feb 10 A fire in the
workers' barracks of BHP Billiton's Escondida
copper mine in Chile, the world's largest, left three workers
injured early Friday, the company said.
The fire, which affected three employees of companies that
provide third-party services to BHP, occurred as the mine's
largest union enters the second day of a strike that has stopped
production at the massive deposit.
The company, which is continuing some limited operations
during the strike, such as new construction, said the causes of
the fire where under investigation.
"In the early morning hours, for reasons that are being
investigated, a fire occurred in Unit 30 of Camp 7,000," BHP
told Reuters in a statement.
It added that the injuries of the three workers, who were
involved in the expansion of its Los Colorados concentrator,
were not life-threatening.
The striking workers in the 2,500-member Escondida Union No.
1, who are currently camped outside the mine complex where the
fire occurred, said they had no additional information on the
incident, but said the barrack in question had not been occupied
for some time.
"We don't have access. We don't know the extent of what
happened," said Carlos Allendes, the union spokesman.
Escondida is majority-controlled by BHP, with Rio Tinto
and Japan's JECO also holding stakes.
Copper prices have soared in recent weeks amid fears
of a supply disruption at Escondida, which produced 6 percent of
the world's copper in 2015. The metal was trading at $5,941 per
tonne at 10:32 a.m. local time (1332 GMT), near
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing
by Phil Berlowitz)