Workers at the Shougang Hierro Peru iron mine set to strike

* Workers at Cerro Verde copper mine to strike on March 31
* Workers at Shougang iron mine to strike March 29
* Miners demand larger share of profits

By Teresa Cespedes and Patricia Velez

LIMA, March 24 (


) - Workers at the Shougang Hierro Peru iron mine and Cerro Verde copper mine will go on strike next week to demand better wages and a larger share of profits, union leaders said on Wednesday.

Miners at Shougang Hierro Peru will put down tools on March 29, while workers at Cerro Verde will strike on March 31.

Shougang Hierro Peru, a unit of the Chinese Shougang Group, is Peru's only iron producer.

Cerro Verde, controlled by the U.S.-based miner Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold, is one of Peru's largest copper pits. Cerro Verde operates a mine in Arequipa, about 445 miles (720 km) southeast of Peru's capital, Lima.

Peru's laws say mining companies must share 8 percent of their profits with employees, and union leaders accuse companies of underreporting earnings.

"The strike is indefinite," William Camacho, a union leader for Cerro Verde told Reuters. "This is about profits. This year the company has cut our profits arguing the fall in copper prices and the faster depreciation of its equipment," he added.

Peru, a major global exporter of metals, leads the world in silver output and ranks second in copper and zinc.

Shougang Hierro Peru, the country's sole iron producer, operates a mine in the southern town of Marcona. Union leaders at Shougang said more than 1,500 workers and staff would strike to demand better wages and a larger share of profits.

In separate strikes, Buenaventura unions will also put down tools on Friday at the Antapite gold mine and will go on strike at the Uchucchacua silver and Orcopampa gold mine on Saturday, demanding a larger share of profits.

The walkouts mark the second round of strikes this year over this issue.

(Reporting by Teresa Cespedes and Patricia Velez; Writing by Luis Andres Henao; Editing by David Gregorio)