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BHP’s Spence Mine Copper Producing at ‘Slower Rate’

By Nathan Gill
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, said copper output at its 200,000-ton-a-year Spence mine in Chile continues at a “slower rate” as a strike by workers entered a fourth day.

Production was “the same as yesterday,” spokesman Mauro Valdes responded by text message to questions from Bloomberg News today, without elaborating. Spence produced about 100 metric tons of refined copper yesterday, compared with a normal average of 700 tons, Spence union president Andres Ramirez said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Unionized workers at Spence, near the northern city of Calama, walked out on Oct. 13 after rejecting a wage offer. Melbourne-based BHP produced 172,685 tons of copper at Spence in the 12 months through June 30 and plans to reach full capacity of 200,000 tons in the coming year, the company said Sept. 14.

Copper futures for December delivery declined 1.35 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $2.8455 a pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex division. The price rose 0.3 percent this week.

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