March 8, 2017 / 8:24 PM / in a year

No end in sight for strike at Noranda Quebec zinc plant

March 8 (Reuters) - A 3-1/2-week strike at Noranda Income Fund’s zinc processing facility in Quebec is showing no signs of ending, union officials said on Wednesday, with no talks set between workers and management.

The two sides met with a Quebec government-appointed mediator last Friday but no progress was made in settling a dispute over pension cuts and no further meetings arranged, United Steelworkers of America Local 6486 President Manon Castonguay said.

“The company is staying in its position and so are we,” he said in an interview.

The Friday meeting was the only time the two sides had met since the strike began on Feb. 12, she said.

Officials at the Noranda Income Fund as well as Glencore Canada, which indirectly owns 25 percent of the fund, did not respond to a request for comment.

The market is keeping a close eye on the strike as zinc prices have more than doubled since the beginning of last year due to a shortage tied to mine closures and shutdowns. The price of zinc gained 0.6 percent to $2,710 a tonne on Wednesday.

At the same time, spot treatment charges, which zinc smelters are paid for processing and refining concentrate, are near historic lows.

The plant, located at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield in Quebec, is the biggest zinc processing facility in eastern North America.

Noranda said last week that the processing facility had resumed partial production but did not give details.

Castonguay said the plant was likely producing at less than 25 percent of normal capacity.

The plant’s 371 unionized workers walked off the job after the two sides could not agree on proposed pension plan changes in a new collective bargaining agreement. The previous agreement expired on Nov. 30.

Noranda units were up 1 Canadian cent at C$1.57 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday afternoon. Year-to-date, the units have lost 34 percent of their value. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Bil Trott)

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