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Port Workers’ Strike Could Delay Chile’s Commodity Exports

Commodity exports from Chile, a top producer of copper and lithium, could be delayed amid a workers’ strike that began early on Thursday, which disrupted loading and unloading of vessels.

Members of the UPC and FTPC trade unions started a 24-hour strike on Thursday morning local time, Bloomberg reports.

“The strike is intended to draw the attention of the government regarding the union's demands related to decarbonization and unemployment in ports,” Albatrans International Freight Forwarders said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.

“We are still waiting on the information about which ports the strikes will impact, but it is possible that the work stoppage will have an impact on vessel operations and the gate in/gate out of containers at terminals.”

Strike actions have been seen at the port of Ventanas, the most important port in central Chile. Port workers have also blocked roads near the Port of Valparaiso, the biggest port and the second-largest in Chile in terms of container handling after San Antonio.

Port workers are also protesting in the town of Talcahuano, according to Chilean media. 

Workers are set to resume work on Friday but the unions have said that the 24-hour strike is a warning and more industrial actions could follow. Workers are dissatisfied with recent layoffs at coal-handling terminals and want improved safety conditions at work. 

So far, none of the major commodity producers in Chile has reported any impact of the strike on their operations.

Chile is the world’s biggest copper producer, the second-largest producer of lithium, and a major exporter of both commodities that are considered crucial for the energy transition.   

Recently, India has bet on acquiring lithium and copper assets overseas and has sent a delegation to search for such resources in Chile. 

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India has already signed an agreement with Chile’s neighbor Argentina, also a large lithium producer. Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia have large resources in the so-called Lithium Triangle—a lithium-rich region of the Andes, encompassed by the borders of the three South American countries.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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