* Smelter expected to be running by end of January
* To run one of two furnaces, producing nickel matte
* Strike began mid-July
TORONTO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Vale (VALE5.SA) will soon restart its Sudbury, Ontario, smelter for the first time since a strike at the operation began during the summer, the Brazilian mining company said on Monday.
The smelter, part of the assets acquired when Vale bought Canada’s Inco in 2006, will likely churn into action by the end of the month, operating one of its two furnaces and producing a nickel matte product, a company spokesman said.
Vale said it will use company workers from outside the striking bargaining unit -- which is represented by the United Steelworkers union -- as well as some personnel from outside contractors.
“We’ve been training staff employees who are not on strike with the eventual objective of restarting the smelter for some time now,” said spokesman Cory McPhee.
“While we still have not established a firm restart date we fully expect to be operating by the end of the month.”
More than 3,000 workers at Sudbury and at Vale’s smaller Port Colborne operation went on strike in mid-July. The company restarted two mines and a mill in October using non-striking workers, and will used nickel ore from those mines, along with stockpiled concentrate, to feed the smelter.
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway