Rio Tinto refreshes deal with borates workers union
Published: Monday, 25 January 2016
Deal struck with Mojave Desert staff which Rio says will protect business’ future.
Rio Tinto Minerals, the non-metallic arm of Rio Tinto Plc,
signed an agreement in December with the International
Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) concerning workers at its
borates mine in the Mojave Desert, in southwestern US.
The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) invokes a
five-year extension on the current CBA, which was set to expire
in May 2016, in addition to a 2.5% annual wage increase for
hourly employees, starting in May 2016.
"This agreement reached five months prior to CBA expiration
date of May 2016 enables us to further strengthen our business
and continue investing in our Kern County-based mining
operations in Boron," said Isabelle Brassard, general manager
for California operations.
Running until May 2021, the CBA will also include medical
benefits "aligned with industry and national trends for
American workers" that take effect in January 2017. More than
500 ILWU-represented staff work at the Boron, California
"At the same time, the agreement provides a solid foundation
to be more globally competitive and maintain our position as
the world’s leader in borate minerals and refined
products," Brassard added.
Rio Tinto’s mine is one of only two major
operating borate projects in the world, although other
significant challengers are on the rise. Producing nearly half
of the world’s supply of refined borate products,
the mine has an extraction rate of around 3m tpa and has been
in production since 1872. It was converted to an open pit
operation in 1957.
The local president of the ILWU, Dave Liebengood, said that
the continuation of all language from the previous 2010
contract was important. Around 65% of union members voted for
the contract in a recent meeting. "Our goal at the union is to
make sure our company remains a world-class competitor in
selling borates," he added.
"Our employees are our most important asset to delivering
quality product to our customers. I am pleased we found common
ground with ILWU to add value to our business, employees,
customers and stakeholders," Brassard said.