Two months of negotiations between union members and Falconbridge (FL-T) have ended in failure, forcing the major to shut down its mining and milling operations in Sudbury, Ontario.
On Feb. 1, Local 598 of the Canadian Auto Workers (Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers) walked off the job, particularly in protest against the use of contract workers. The union represents 1,050 production and maintenance employees, or about 80% of the Sudbury workforce.
“Our objective is to reach an agreement as quickly as possible,” says President Aaron Regent.
The strike will reduce Falco’s monthly nickel production by 2,000 tonnes, its monthly copper output, by 2,400 tonnes, and its monthly cobalt output, by 40-50 tonnes. The smelter will continue to run at 40-50% capacity, relying mainly on concentrate from the Raglan mine in northern Quebec.
Falco is the world’s third largest nickel producer, after Noril’sk of Russia and Inco (N-T). The Sudbury operations account for 5% of world demand.
Falco says it has enough ore stockpiled at the mill and enough feed in the circuit to satisfy sales commitments for several weeks.