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UPDATE 1-Union at Chile´s Candelaria copper mine begins strike

(Updates with extend of action)

SANTIAGO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A union of workers at Lundin Mining´s Candelaria copper mine in Chile walked off the job on Thursday after talks broke down earlier this week, the head of the union told Reuters.

The Canadian miner had requested government mediation in September in a last-ditch effort to stave off a strike after failing to reach a contract deal, but the talks did not bear fruit.

Patricio Garate, the president of the 350-member union, blamed the company for not “wanting to continue the conversation.” He said the mine was 89% “paralyzed.”

Minera Candelaria, however, said in a statement the union represented just one-third of the mine´s operators, and that “the operational continuity of the mine had not been affected.”

Copper prices have been supported recently by concern about potential strikes in Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer.

Candelaria said in the statement that it stood by its final offer and rejected recent “violent actions,” near the northern Chilean mine, including road blocks, threats and the burning of tires.

Candelaria produced 111,400 tonnes of copper in 2019 and had reached 65,400 tonnes as of July this year. Chile is the world’s largest producer of the red metal. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Alistair Bell)

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