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Brazil's Vale agrees to pay workers as it exits Argentina mine

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian mining giant Vale SA will pay two and a half months' salary to workers in Argentina as part of an agreement signed on Friday allowing the miner to exit the $6 billion Rio Colorado potash project.

The payments will go to about 4,900 subcontractors, a spokeswoman said on Saturday, declining to give further details on the cost of the accord.

The agreement could put an end to months of uncertainty for Vale, which suspended work on the fertilizer project in December and announced its intention to pull out in March.

Since its decision to exit, Vale and Argentina's government have been at loggerheads over the fate of workers at the site.

People familiar with Vale's plans have said the company, the world's second-biggest miner, planned to sell the project in efforts to recoup the $2.2 billion it has already spent on the mine and on railway and port improvements needed to move the potash to market.

(Reporting by Brad Haynes; Additional reporting by Sabrina Lorenzi in Rio de Janeiro)

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