Imperial Metals is beginning staged layoffs at its Mount Polley Mine near Williams Lake that will impact about 78 full-time positions by the end of 2018.
The move comes in order to pay for projects the company has to complete because of the 2014 tailings breach, Mount Polley Mining Corporation general manager Dale Reimer said.
“We are trying to get cash positive for 2018 because we have some big projects we have to do to keep the mine going.”
Those projects include removing the tailings that were put into the Springer Pit after the mine breach and more restoration work to Hazeltine Creek because of the damage caused by the breach, Reimer explained.
“We also have more work to do to lift our tailings dam a bit. We have to be cash positive to do those projects for the long-term mine liability.
“Approximately 16 people will be laid off in the first quarter.”
In the second quarter, the company will lay off another 26 people, in the third quarter an additional 16, and in the fourth quarter, approximately 10 more, he confirmed.
It is also expected that an additional 39 people who were working under a temporary contract that expires in January 2018 will no longer be working at the mine after next week, Reimer said.
For the most the part, the restoration work is done by the company, except for dredging of the Springer Pit, which has be to be done by experts, Reimer explained.
“We don’t have the equipment or the knowledge. It’s very specific work.”
In the last six months of 2018, the mine will be using its stock piles and won’t be doing any additional mining, he noted.
Presently, there are 337 people working at the mine.
If the mine can get all the work done that is required, it is hoped the number of employees will be back up to that level in the future, Reimer said.
United Steelworkers Union Local 2017 first vice president Paul French declined comment on the layoffs because the union is in contract talks with the company.