Restart of Pointe-Noire Pellet Plant Proposed

by Keith Powell
Aerial view of the iron ore pellet plant at Pointe-Noire, QC.

Aerial view of the iron ore pellet plant at Pointe-Noire, QC. — Photo courtesy Cliffs Natural Resources

The United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) and Bedrock Industries have agreed to begin discussions in coming weeks and months to reach a new collective agreement for workers at the Pointe-Noire, Que., iron ore pellet plant, with a view to restarting the idled facility.

"Bedrock Industries has informed us of its intention to relaunch the plant and its desire to negotiate a collective agreement. This is great news for the community. We will make every effort to ensure that the conditions are right for the plant's reopening," said Nicolas Lapierre, Steelworkers' Co-ordinator for Quebec's North Shore region.

The Pointe-Noire pellet plant, which previously employed members of the Steelworkers union, was closed in June 2013. A few months later, in 2014, Cliffs Natural Resources filed for bankruptcy protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

Discussions on the proposed buyout and reopening of the pellet plant are now underway between Bedrock Industries and the Société ferroviaire et portuaires de Pointe-Noire, which currently owns the facility.

"Bedrock's interest in negotiating a collective agreement indicates a willingness to proceed with this project in the appropriate way. It indicates to us that this is a serious proposal, where workers are seen as partners. We are ready to be part of such a project," said Robert Roy, President of Steelworkers Local 6254, which represented employees at the Pointe-Noire plant prior to its shutdown.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

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