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Rio Tinto reduces capacity at Kitimat smelter due to a strike

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(Kitco News) - Rio Tinto announced today that it has begun reducing production at its BC Works aluminium smelter in Kitimat, Canada due to a strike initiated by the Unifor Local 2301 union after negotiations failed to reach a new collective labour agreement.

In a statement, Rio Tinto said that production will be reduced to around 35 per cent of the smelter’s 432,000 tonne annual capacity, so that it can safely be operated by staff and employees required under an essential services order granted by the BC Labour Relations Board.

Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations Samir Cairae said that reducing production will have a significant impact on the business and community, but that the company is committed to taking the necessary steps to operate safely with a reduced workforce.

“We have made every effort to reach a mutually beneficial agreement through negotiating in good faith over the past seven weeks, including proposing an independent mediator which was rejected by Unifor Local 2301. We will continue to look for longer term solutions with the union and work closely with customers and suppliers to minimise disruptions,” he added.

The company noted that a reduced workforce is also in place to ensure the Kemano hydro-power facility continues to run safely.

Rio Tinto employs approximately 1,050 people at the BC Works smelter and Kemano powerhouse, including around 900 employees represented by Unifor Local 2.

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