Employees at a potash mine just outside of Saskatoon have been told they’ll be laid off.
Two miners from Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan’s Cory mine told 650 CKOM they got the news early Wednesday. Both asked not to have their names published.
One worker said the news came as a complete surprise.
“It was a shocker. I did not expect to go through that today at all. I thought we were pretty safe,” he said.
With the layoffs set to take effect in February, he said it was a small blessing to at least have work heading into Christmas.
“That’s one good thing about it I suppose. I mean, still, being laid-off sucks,” he said.
PotashCorp. spokesperson Randy Burton said 100 permanent employees and 40 temporary ones will be let go. He said the formal 90-day notice will go to the union this week. 350 people will remain employed at the mine.
“This is a very difficult move for the company. Obviously a very difficult day for our employees and their families. We’re focused on helping them get through this transition. We’ll be providing severance packages of course and assistance in transition programs,” he said.
Burton explained that the Cory mine will stop producing red potash entirely and move to only making white potash, a process that requires fewer workers. He said the layoffs are part of the company’s response to what continues to be a challenging global potash market.
“Cory is a higher-cost operation and we’re trying to focus our production on our lower cost operations such as Rocanville,” Burton said. He added that the company’s push to focus on lower-cost operations was also behind layoffs at its Picadilly mine in New Brunswick earlier this year. That move saw the company shed over 400 jobs.
On top of the permanent layoffs at the Cory mine, Burton said the company’s Lanigan and Allan operations will see temporary shutdowns in the New Year. He said the Allan mine will shut down for six weeks beginning in January and Lanigan will shut down for 12 weeks beginning in February. Those moves are meant to help the company cut back its inventory to match demand.