(Reuters) — Rio Tinto Alcan will shut down about a third of the production at its 438,000-tonne Alma aluminum smelter in Quebec after locking out hundreds of unionized workers in a contract dispute, it said on Dec. 29.
Earlier the unit of the Anglo-Australian mining giant said it locked out about 800 workers at the smelter in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Rio said it had begun an orderly shutdown of 144 out of 432 reduction cells at the smelter and would continue to operate the remaining capacity using company staff until further notice.
Rio said it had been bargaining with the union, the Syndicat des travailleurs de l'aluminium d'Alma, Local 9490 of the United Steelworkers, since Oct. 4, 2011. The contract expired in December 2011.
Union representatives could not be reached immediately for comment.
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