It's no secret that nickel prices aren't doing as well as they could be — the International Nickel Study Group recently revealed that the global nickel market recorded a surplus of 108,200 tonnes in the first eight months of 2013, and some analysts believe that it will take a year or two for a turnaround to occur. However, for the most part, nickel companies aren't taking the news lying down. Case in point: news surfaced on October 11 that in order to cut costs, major miners Glencore Xstrata (LSE:GLEN) and Vale (NYSE:VALE) are once again talking about combining their nickel-mining operations in Canada's Sudbury Basin. Discussion details Though neither company has yet confirmed the talks are taking place, Reuters notes that according to "sources familiar with the situation," discussions have been going on since Glencore finished up its acquisition of Xstrata earlier this year. Details remain sparse — as yet, all that has been revealed is that the mining heavyweights area"considering a number of options for their mining and processing operations in the area," with "substantial savings" at stake. More specifically, industry sources are pointing to savings of several hundred million dollars per year. Third time's the charm? The idea of a united front in the Sudbury Basin is not a new one. The current talks follow 2005 negotiations betweenaFalconbridge and Inco — which were ultimately taken over by Xstrata and Vale, respectively — as well as later discussions between Vale and Xstrata. So what exactly is different this time around? Thus far, the consensus seems to be that the tough nickel market, along with "pressure on Vale over nickel difficulties at its Goro nickel-cobalt mine in New Caledonia and elsewhere" make a deal more likely than it was in the past, as per Reuters. Some also believe that a 2011 deal that saw Xstrata and Vale cooperate on copper ore extraction may help spur further collaboration.