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Voisey's bay nickel strike talks falter once more

Published by MAC on 2010-01-11
Source: Reuters

Voisey's bay nickel strike talks falter once more


5 January 2010

TORONTO - Mediated talks between Brazilian miner Vale (VALE5.SA) and union leaders on Monday over a five-month strike at its Voisey's Bay nickel mine in Eastern Canada have failed to bring the two sides back to the bargaining table, meaning no end to the strike is in sight.

Vale spokesman Bob Carter said the company was now considering options for the mine, which could include restarting the operation with nonunionized workers, as Vale has done at a concurrent strike at its Sudbury, Ontario, nickel operations.

"The spectrum of options runs from shutting the site down through to operations. We're looking at all of those options and when we've completed our assessment we'll let folks now," Carter said.

The meeting between top negotiators along with a government-appointed mediator follows a similar meeting late last year and had been the first sign of progress in resolving the strike, which began on Aug. 1.

Boyd Bussey, a negotiator for the United Steelworkers union, said there had been no progress at the meeting and no plans for another one.

The two sides have been far apart on both monetary and language issues, with a key splinter point being the company's wishes to alter a worker bonus tied to the price of nickel.

About 135 mine and maintenance workers are on strike at Voisey's, which is located in Newfoundland and Labrador and produced 77,500 tonnes of contained nickel and 55,400 tonnes of contained copper in 2008.

The operation is currently on "care and maintenance", meaning it is staffed at a lower level but not in production.

The strike at Vale's larger Sudbury operation began in mid-July.

Vale acquired both operations when it bought Canadian miner Inco in 2006. (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway)

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