Inco Ltd. will close its Copper Cliff refinery in Sudbury in northern Ontario by the end of the year, the Toronto-based company said on Friday.
‘We have made the decision final to close the copper refinery,’ Inco spokesman Cory McPhee said.
He said the decision to shut the small, aging and high-cost plant will affect 140 employees, but no one will be laid off. Jobs will be found for workers in other Inco operations in the area.
The United Steelworkers of America, the union representing workers at the refinery, as well as several other Inco sites, is strongly opposed to the plant’s closure.
The union has warned that labor negotiations later this year at Inco’s Manitoba nickel operations will be tense if the refinery is shut.
McPhee said that about 80 of the 140 employees were near retirement age.
Like other miners, Inco has suffered from escalating costs at its operations due to higher energy and other mine input costs. But at the same time, it has been enjoying the best nickel and copper prices for more than a decade.