Xstrata-CAW reach tentative deal to end Kidd strike

Wed Nov 5, 2008 9:25pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Xstrata and the union representing workers at the Kidd metallurgical operations in Canada have reached a tentative deal to end a strike that began over a month ago, a union official said on Wednesday.

About 700 workers walked off the job on October 1 after contract talks broke down over wages and contract language. The Kidd operation, located near Timmins, Ontario, produces about 1 percent of the world's copper and zinc. The site is separate from the Kidd copper-zinc mine, which is not unionized.

"(The deal) provides for wage increases and benefit increases and adjustments in language and a signing bonus," said Hemi Mitic, assistant to the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.

He said the union would vote on ratifying the deal on Thursday.

The Kidd operation, which Xstrata acquired through its takeover of Falconbridge in 2006, consists of a concentrator, refinery, and copper and zinc smelters.

It annually produces about 6,500 tonnes of copper anode, 125,000 tonnes of copper cathode, 140,000 tonnes of zinc, and about 540,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid.

Managers have been running the concentrator for nearly a month, stockpiling some concentrate on site and shipping some to other sites.

The impact of the strike on copper and zinc prices has been difficult to gauge, as both have fallen sharply amid fears of a global recession.

The strike has forced government-owned rail operator Ontario Northland to implement cost-cutting measures, including laying off 29 employees.

(Reporting by Cameron French)