updated 8/31/2006 8:09:14 PM ET 2006-09-01T00:09:14

Workers at Chile’s La Escondida mine — responsible for about 8 percent of world copper output — on Thursday voted to end their 25-day strike, a labor union official reported.

Francisco Aedo said 1,607 workers voted to accept a new 40-month contract offered by the company, Minera La Escondida. Another 121 voted to continue to strike and one worker voided his vote.

The strike at the world’s largest privately owned copper mine roiled world markets for the metal, often setting off buying and selling waves. The strike brought about half the mine’s production to a halt — stoking fears of a shortage in an already tight market.

The mine is owned by a consortium including Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd.

The new contract will be signed Friday and strikers will return to work at the mine Saturday or Sunday the latest, Aedo said.

The contract calls for a 5 percent wage increase and bonuses totaling 9 million pesos ($16,600). Union spokesman Pedro Marin said the contract also includes health and education benefits for the union’s 2,052 members.

The union initially demanded a 13 percent wage raise plus bonus, a bid to get a greater share of the bonanza resulting from record-high prices for copper.

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