* Strike impacts operations at La Coipa mine in Chile
* Kinross: Output hurt by about 300 gold equivalent oz/day
* Union leader says strike to continue indefinitely (Updates with Chile union vowing to strike indefinitely)
SANTIAGO/TORONTO , July 9 (Reuters) - Striking union workers at miner Kinross Gold Corp’s (K.TO)(KGC.N) La Coipa gold mine in Chile said they had paralyzed output and would continue their protest indefinitely unless pay demands are met.
Kinross, Canada’s No. 3 gold producer, said the strike, which began on Wednesday, was affecting output of about 300 ounces of gold production per day, though union leader Nibaldo Orrego said daily production averages around 800 ounces.
“The strike will continue indefinitely until the company meets our demands,” Orrego told Reuters by telephone from the deposit.
He said 290 unionized workers had joined the strike, which began on Wednesday morning after contract negotiations broke down, to demand a 6.8 percent salary hike. Orrego said the company had offered a 0.75 percent wage increase.
La Coipa is an open pit gold and silver mine located in the Atacama region about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Santiago.
In the first quarter of 2009, the mine produced about 66,000 gold equivalent ounces at a cost of sales of about $390 per ounce.
“Gold is at a peak. The company is making a lot of money and workers are not benefiting from the profits,” Orrego said. “We want the company to recognize our sacrifices and share its capital with its workers.”
Macquarie Research Equities described the strike as a “mild negative” for the stock in a note to investors, and forecast output at La Coipa of 240,000 ounces in 2009.
Kinross said it was seeking a resolution that is “fair and equitable” to employees and returns the mine to full production as soon as possible.
Toronto-based Kinross has mines and projects in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Russia. It employs about 5,500 people worldwide. (Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto and Simon Gardner in Santiago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)