(Reuters) — About 2,000 workers at Canada's First Quantum Minerals Ltd. flagship Zambian copper mine returned to work on March 6 following appeals from the company and labour unions.
First Quantum agreed to a 15 per cent pay rise with workers at the Kansanshi mine on March 4, but the two sides had differed over how long the agreement should stay in place.
Workers at the Kansanshi mine, Zambia's largest copper mine, which produced 231,000 tonnes of the red metal in 2010, downed tools to demand a 17 per cent pay increase on March 1.
Kansanshi mine spokesman Godfrey Msiska and National Union of Mine and Allied Workers Union president Mundia Sikufele said most of the employees had resumed work on March 6.
"We are appealing to all the workers to resume normal duties as we go for reconcilliation with the management," Sukufele told Reuters.
First Quantum said those who continued with the work stoppage risked dismissal.
The company has said the strike was costing it $5 million per day in lost revenue, and costing the government more than $1.5 million a day in lost taxes.
Production at the mine ground to a halt because of the strike, prompting Zambia's Vice-President Guy Scott to call for talks mediated by his office to try and end the work stoppage.
Glencore International Plc's Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia agreed to a 17 per cent pay rise with unions in February, almost triple the rate of inflation.
Konkola Copper Mines, part of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, awarded a similar pay increase to its workers in January.