NEWYORK, Mar. 15 -- Vale SA, the world's largest iron- ore producer, plans to hire outside workers and increase production at its striking mines in Canada to counter a drop in inventories.
Vale said on March 12 it's boosting nickel output at its Sudbury, Voisey's Bay and Copper Cliff units in Canada as part of a plan to offset an eight-month strike.
"We're looking at increasing our mine production, and we're going to be doing that with a combination of our existing staff employees as well as external mine contractors," Cory McPhee, a spokesman for Vale, said today in a telephone interview. He added that he didn't how many contract workers would be hired.
About 3,300 employees at Vale's Canadian operation walked off the job on July 13, when contract talks broke down, leading to the longest strike in Vale's 67-year history. Workers in Sudbury, Ontario, voted against a contract offered by Vale on March 7, prolonging a strike that has curbed production.
Vale has been "threatening to (hire workers) for eight months now and they haven't been successful," said Wayne Fraser, director of the United Steelworkers' 6th District, in a telephone interview. "Finding people to do it is going to be very, very difficult."
The Rio de Janeiro-based company is the world's second- biggest nickel producer after MMC Norilsk Nickel. McPhee said Vale expects to make nickel from its Sudbury mine at full capacity by the end of the second quarter to supply the smelter.
The Financial Times reported the hirings earlier today.