TORONTO, Feb. 3 -- Unionized workers at Xstrata's (XTA.L: Quote) Sudbury mining operations ratified a new three-year labor contract on Tuesday, the union said.
As part of the agreement, reached early on Monday after frantic last-minute bargaining, Xstrata will reopen the Fraser nickel mine, whose operations it suspended last year due to low nickel prices.
The deal averted a strike and comes as cross-town rival Vale's (VALE5.SA: Quote) operations have been crippled by a 6-½ month labor stoppage.
Union members -- about 580 were covered by the contract -- voted 93 percent to approve the deal, said Jerry Dias, assistant to the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents the Xstrata workers.
Key issues had been recall rights for about 500 workers laid off when Xstrata trimmed its operations last year, as well as pensions and a worker bonus tied to the price of nickel.
According to details of the deal released on Tuesday, about 140 of the 500 lost jobs will be saved due to the reopening of the Fraser mine. The union also hopes to reclaim another 80 jobs through retirements.
While the price floor of the nickel bonus was lifted, a performance bonus was added.
Some analysts have speculated that a quick resolution to the Xstrata negotiations might give Vale and its union a framework for concluding its own deal and ending its strike.