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TORONTO (Reuters) - Unionized workers at Xstrata's Kidd metallurgical operations in Canada went on strike early on Wednesday after talks with the company failed to produce a contract agreement ahead of a midnight deadline.
"We're out officially right now," said Hemi Mitic, assistant to the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents the 600 workers at the site in northern Ontario.
Mitic said wage hikes and contract language were among the main sticking points in negotiations.
"We just weren't able to get there. We tried to approach this thing on about 50 different angles and we just couldn't get there," he said.
Xstrata began shutting down the operations on Tuesday in preparation for a potential work stoppage.
The Kidd metallurgical operations, which have had two other work stoppages in the past decade, consist of copper and zinc smelters, a concentrator, and a mill.
They annually produce about 6,500 metric tons of copper anode, 125,000 metric tons of copper cathode, 140,000 metric tons of zinc and 540,000 metric tons of sulfuric acid.
The site is separate from the Kidd copper-zinc mine, where workers are not unionized.
Xstrata acquired the Kidd operations when it took over Falconbridge in 2006.
Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Louise Heavens