Cliffs Natural Resources is shutting down production at Wabush Mines, affecting 500 workers currently employed there.
The news was confirmed in an official statement by the company. The statement was not specific to the status of Wabush Mines, but instead focused on a more than 50 per cent slash in the company’s capital spending across its business year over year.
Premier Tom Marshall has issued a statement in response to the news. “The decision by Cliffs Natural Resources to idle its mining and processing operations at the Scully Iron Ore Mine in Wabush is very disappointing. While we believe this was undoubtedly a difficult decision for Cliffs, our thoughts are with employees of the mine and their families during this challenging time,” Marshall said.
“I will be in Wabush this week with Ministers Dalley and McGrath for discussions with stakeholders. We will continue to further opportunities for development in Labrador West. We remain confident in the future of the mining industry in the region.”
Wabush Mines started pulling ore from the Scully Mine in 1965. The ore goes to a concentrating plant at site and is then moved, by rail, to Point Noire, Que.
The total number for workers being affected by the idling of the Scully mine includes both workers on the ground in Wabush and workers at the port.
The Cliffs operation in Labrador shipped about three million tonnes of iron ore concentrate in 2012, feeding mining royalties into the provincial coffers, in addition to offering worker employment.
In 2012, Cliffs idled its pellet plant citing high production costs and lower prices.
In that same year the provincial government recorded 19 million tonnes of iron ore shipments from the Labrador mines, or about 10 per cent more than the year prior. However, lower prices meant the overall value of those iron ore shipments dropped by 12 per cent.
The news of Cliffs’ capital spending cuts, in addition to the idling of Wabush Mines is notable for mine workers in the Labrador Trough.
In 2013, the company spent $862 million on capital projects. In 2014, the plan is for only $375-$425 million in spending. That change is attributable to cut backs for the company’s plans for the Bloom lake Mine in Quebec — another hit for Labrador Trough miners.
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