A week-long rail strike in Canada prompted world’s biggest mining firm Rio Tinto Group to declare force majeure on all aluminium shipments originating from the dominion.
Though the strike crippled the Canadian National Railway system, the Teamsters union came to a working agreement with CN to stop the strike and allow normal rail service to continue. However, significant delays are still expected for several more days due to the backlog accumulated during the strike.
Even now, “this work stoppage is impacting all railcars traveling on … CN’s main lines in Canada,” explained Rio Tinto’s Sales & Marketing – North America manager Dany Cloutier in a letter obtained by S&P Global Platts earlier this week.
“This event, which is beyond our reasonable control, if prolonged, may cause significant operational difficulties at our Canadian facilities, and is currently impacting our supply chain and our ability to transport our products to certain of our customers, ports and warehouses in North America.”
“As a result of this event of force majeure, our ability to deliver under our sales arrangements in accordance with the volumes and schedule agreed prior to the occurrence of this event may be affected,” he continued. “We are committed to work closely with you to minimize any impacts and find mutually acceptable solutions to maintain supply.”
“We are actively monitoring the situation and taking actions to mitigate any impacts to you. We will strive to keep you informed of the effects on delivery schedules and volumes, and when the normal level of activity is expected to resume.”
Although Rio Tinto Aluminum is “currently unable to estimate how long this event of force majeure will last, however, we expect that the supply disruption would continue past the end of the labor dispute as CN clears its backlog of shipments and our inventory levels improve,” promised Cloutier.
Headquartered in Montreal, Rio Tinto Aluminium operates an alumina refinery, several aluminium smelters, and a network of hydroelectric plants throughout Quebec and British Columbia.