The Rio Tinto headquarters in Perth.
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  • Rio Tinto (RIO) and Unifor agree on an in-principle collective labour agreement and a memorandum of understanding for a new way of working together
  • Unifor represents 900 workers at Rio Tinto’s Kitimat Aluminum Smelter and Kemano power generating facility in British Columbia, Canada
  • The union will present the agreement to its members in the coming days
  • Rio Tinto and Unifor have agreed not to share the details of the agreement until it has been ratified
  • Rio Tinto is trading 1.36 per cent higher at $100.69 at 3:17 pm AEST

Rio Tinto (RIO) is closer to resolving a dispute with British Colombian workers after reaching an in-principle new collective labour agreement at the second round of talks.

Unifor represents 900 workers at Rio Tinto’s Kitimat aluminium smelter and Kemano hydroelectricity power generating facility in the Canadian province.

The first round of talks between the union and the mining giant took place over seven weeks and failed to yield an agreement, after which Unifor issued a 72-hour strike notice in July 2021.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the parties said they had also drafted a memorandum of understanding on “a new way of working together and on a return to work protocol.”

Unifor will present the new agreement to its members in the coming days and hold a vote to ratify it. Rio Tinto and Unifor said they had agreed not to share the details of the agreement until the agreement had been ratified.

Rio Tinto’s operations in Kitimat, British Colombia, began in 1954 when it was the world’s largest smelter powered by hydroelectricity.

The asset is of particular importance with the price of aluminium soaring. Over the past year the commodity has risen 12.6 per cent (as of September 26, 2021).

Rio Tinto, which has 16 iron ore mines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, has been feeling the pinch of plummeting iron ore prices.

The world’s largest steelmaker, China, imports the majority of its iron ore for steel production from Australia and its has significantly cut refining operations since July.

The move is part of China’s Blue Skies campaign in the lead up to the Winter Olympics and is similar to policies implemented ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.

Rio Tinto is trading 1.36 per cent higher at $100.69 at 3:17 pm AEST.

RIO by the numbers
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