Worker’s death spurs strike action at Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic mine

(Image by Codelco, Twitter/X.)

Following the death of Ana Camila Rojas Farías in an accident on March 8, unionized workers blocked Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic copper mine in northern Chile.

According to local media, the mine workers blocked the entrance road to the deposit and completely stopped production, in a strike that will be indefinite, according to Ricardo Torrejón, president of the Radomiro Tomic union.

Torrejón said that the strike aims to bring attention to the “serious safety issues and the lack of equipment maintenance” taking place at the operation. In his view, this was the cause of Rojas Farías’ accident. 

The 30-year-old woman was operating an extraction truck Friday afternoon when it suddenly caught fire. 

Police and authorities from the National Geology and Mining Service are still investigating the causes of the accident but have yet to share their findings. 

“Codelco deeply regrets this fatal accident, expresses its deepest condolences to the family of Ana Rojas, to her colleagues and reiterates its call to promote safety as a non-negotiable value,” the state miner said in a media release

Back in 2020, a 33-year-old operator who worked on an extraction truck was also killed in an accident at Radomiro Tomic.

In June 2023, an electrical accident at Codelco’s El Teniente mine in central Chile left one worker dead, while in July 2022, two workers died in separate accidents at Codelco’s Chuqui Subterranea and Rajo Inca projects.

Between 2021 and 2023, Codelco was sanctioned 29 times for having seven fatal accidents. Most of the incidents were in project construction and not routine mining operations.

Lack of maintenance partly due to supply chain and staffing issues during the covid-19 pandemic caused a series of delays and equipment failures that are still being felt, according to the company. 

Delays in structural projects also affected maintenance since the company was forced to keep using machinery it had planned on retiring after new projects came online.

Chile is the world’s largest copper supplier and Codelco accounts for just over a quarter of the country’s output.

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