Strike Shuts Falconbridge Ontario Nickel Site: “The Sudbury smelter, which produced 57,900 tonnes of unrefined nickel in 2002, would be run at a reduced rate by a small number of non-union workers, Falconbridge spokesman Dale Coffin said. During the last strike at the unit, a six-month halt in 2000, the smelter was run at 50 percent to 60 percent capacity.

Metals markets have been on tenterhooks about a strike at the Canadian operation as it comes at a time when the world is forecast to need 30,000 tonnes more nickel than can be supplied. Nickel is a key ingredient in stainless steel.

The work stoppage comes just four months after a supply-crippling, 13-week strike ended at Toronto-based Inco Ltd, the world No. 2 producer.

A shutdown of the Sudbury mine, milling and smelting site will deplete world supplies by more than 4,000 tonnes a month. Smaller quantities of copper, cobalt and precious metals, which are mined as by-products of nickel, will also be lost.

Nickel prices more than doubled last year on supply worries and were expected to continue to rise with a Sudbury shutdown.”

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