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Talks fail, Rio Tinto Alcan locks out 800

MONTREAL, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- International mining conglomerate Rio Tinto Alcan said it locked out 800 employees at a Quebec aluminum smelter after three months of contract talks failed.

In a release from Montreal, the company said it was beginning an "orderly shutdown" of about one-third of its production at its 438,000 ton Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

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The company and union have been in negotiations since Oct. 4 and the contract expired Dec. 31, The (Montreal) Gazette reported.

Non-union workers and management will keep some operations running, the company said in its release.

Details of the demands and offer weren't published.

"Rio Tinto Alcan staff will execute the orderly shutdown of 144 out of 432 reduction cells and will continue to operate the remaining capacity until further notice," the company said.

"Plans are in place to ensure that our aluminum operations throughout the region continue to run safely and efficiently, and we will work to limit the labor disruption's impact [on] Rio Tinto Alcan's customers."

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