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Striking workers at copper giant Codelco to meet management

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

SANTIAGO, June 23 (Reuters) - Union leaders at Chile's state-owned mining firm Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, will meet company representatives on Thursday as a strike over the closure of a copper smelter enters its second day.

The Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), an umbrella group of Codelco's unions, said the meeting will take place but the strike action that started on Wednesday would continue.

Workers have blocked roads outside Codelco facilities around the country, lit fires, and held up banners and Chilean flags calling for more investment from Codelco.

Codelco has said the protests over the closure of the Ventanas smelter could hit production if they drag on. Chile is the world's top copper producing nation.

"Although these demonstrations have not impacted production so far, if the road blockades are extended, the company will have to adjust the operation according to the available resources, with a consequent impact on production," it said.

Workers at the state-owned company began the strike after Codelco announced the closure of Ventanas, located in an industrial zone in the central coastal region of the Andean country that has been hit be a spate of pollution issues.

The FTC said some 50,000 workers, including direct employees of the copper company and contractors, were expected to take part in the strike. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Steven Grattan; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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