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TUCSON, Ariz. — Officials with Asarco LLC say the copper mining company and unions representing employees at sites in Arizona and Texas have agreed to continue negotiating a labor contract.

Asarco President and Chief Operating Officer Manuel Ramos made the announcement Saturday. He says the talks will resume July 9.

The negotiations began three weeks ago in Tucson.

Both sides have agreed to continue the current collective bargaining agreement beyond its June 30 expiration date.

Unions have had a contentious relationship with Asarco in the past. A strike in 2005 added to soaring environmental costs and helped push the company into bankruptcy reorganization.

The Tucson-based company employs about 2,600 workers. In addition to its mines, mills and smelter near Tucson, it operates a refinery in Amarillo.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Associated Press,

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