Shut down of Endako affects hundreds

Mine suspension 'devastating' to Fraser Lake, mayor Lindstrom said

Endako mine in Fraser Lake

Fraser Lake – More than 340 families will juggle bills this holiday season after unexpected suspension of Endako Mine.

Thomson Creek Metals announced their Endako molybdenum mine in Fraser Lake will be put on temporary suspension as of Dec. 31 due to continued weakness of the Moly market.

With it will came the termination of half their salaried employees (42) and a 60-day notice to all hourly employees who will be paid through Feb. 7.  Currently 347 people are employed at the mine, of that 84 are salaried and 263 are hourly, all of which will feel the negative effects of the layoff.

“It’s bad because its half our workforce,” Dwayne Lindstrom said, mayor of Fraser Lake. “You knock three-or-four hundred people out of a town of 1100, it’s pretty devastating.”

Total severance benefits for the terminated salaried employees are expected to total approximately $1.7 million (about $42,000 per person), of which 75 per cent will be paid by Thompson Creek Metals and 25 per cent by their partner Sojitz Moly Resources (Sojitz).

“This effects the whole region,” said Mr. Lindstrom. “Fraser Lake Sawmill and Endako mine are the two biggest employers in Fraser Lake and people from Vanderhoof and Burns Lake work there too. Timing isn’t good no matter when it is but just before the holidays this will ruin a lot of family’s Christmases.”

All hourly employees will remain on  ‘stand by’ during the suspension period. This will enable us to restart operations fairly quickly once or if a decision is made to do so, said Pamela Solly, director, investor relations and corporate responsibility for Endako.

“We will continue to closely monitor market conditions and re-evaluate the status of the mine as market conditions warrant,” she said in an e-mail interview. “We have longevity in the surrounding communities and will continue to strive to be good partners. We will work hard to keep employees and other stakeholders apprised of the status of the temporary suspension, and will work to place employees at our Mt. Milligan operation whenever possible.”

Although all mill and mine operations will soon be temporarily suspended but monitoring activities and preventative maintenance will continue.

“The processing facility needs to be shut down and shut down properly and although production will stop, [unionized workers]will continue working up to or close to Feb. 7 to winterize all the machinery, trucks, shovels, and equipment and get it ready for sitting,” Dan Will said, business agent for the local 1-424 United Steelworkers Union.

Price of Molly is down to $8.775 a pound as of Dec. 11. Endako has not disclosed a price as which the mine would re-start operations but, $12 or $15 would be realistic said Mr. Well.

“Over the years it has been quite high but the problem with the coal and steel industry is nobody is making steel right now,” Mr. Well said.

“To shut a mine down is an expensive process and I’m sure the decision wasn’t made lightly,” he continued. “[The price of Molly] will go up but the question is when will it go up. I’m sure idling the mine wasn’t an easy decision for them to make.”