Almost a year has passed since the Endako Mine was placed on temporary suspension due to a continued weakness in the molybdenum market.
Over 300 employees have lost their jobs since Dec. 31, 2014.
According to Pamela Solly, a Spokesperson at Thompson Creek Metals – company that holds a 75 per cent interest in the Endako Mine, the mine has retained 11 employees to carry out its care and maintenance and environmental obligations. Mining and milling activities have been discontinued, and the mine still maintains the idle plant, machinery and equipment.
Before the suspension was in effect, however, the mine employed 347 employees. So what happened to those employees?
The Village of Fraser Lake does not have any statistics on how many Endako Mine workers were able to find other jobs, so Lakes District News spoke with Robin Work, General Manager at Progressive Employment Services. Work and his team were involved in efforts to find employment for displaced workers from Endako Mine.
According to Work, some employees have gone to other mines – both in and out of B.C. – while some have changed industries completely. However, Work says there is no accurate data on the number of employees that were able to regain employment elsewhere.
Babine Forest Products has hired four employees from Endako Mine. Thompson Creek says 12 employees were transferred to other company locations such as the Mount Milligan Mine.
Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom said Endako Mine has done a “great job” helping impacted workers.
Soon after the suspension was announced, the Endako Mine’s human resources team coordinated a support program for workers who had lost their jobs. In January 2015, the team held a job fair in Fraser Lake which included 29 companies and government agencies. A support centre for Endako workers has also been in operation for the past year in Fraser Lake.
In addition, a number of agencies have worked closely to assist the displaced workers, including Service Canada, WorkBC, the Village of Fraser Lake, the College of New Caledonia (CNC), School District 91, the United Steelworkers and the provincial government.
Earlier this year, the province provided funding of $150,000 to CNC to provide training so impacted workers in Fraser Lake could find new careers. The majority of training has been offered in Fraser Lake, with some courses provided in Vanderhoof and Burns Lake.
Will Endako Mine restart operations?
The molybdenum market has been suffering from a slowdown in demand especially as it relates to steel in the oil and gas industry.
According to Pamela Solly, a Spokesperson at Thompson Creek Metals, in order for Thompson Creek to consider restarting the mine, there would have to be a “strong improvement” in molybdenum demand, most especially from the steel sector.
“We do not expect that this is likely for several more years to come,” she said.
Although there have been rumours that Thompson Creek Metals has intentions to sell their share of Endako Mine, Solly says the company has not made any public announcement to this effect.
The Endako Mine is operated as a joint venture with Thompson Creek Metals holding a 75 per cent interest and Sojitz Corporation, a Japanese company, holding a 25 per cent interest.
Jacques Perron, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thompson Creek, said the company will continue to closely monitor the market conditions and re-evaluate the status of the mine as market conditions warrant.