Although it wasn’t really that long ago that the mining industry was booming in Thompson – if you’ve lived here longer than 10 years, you experienced at least part of it – it might feel like it’s mostly been gloom and doom for a long time because, for the most part, it has.
The 2008 global recession, which was a bit delayed in arriving in Thompson, although eventually it did, was only first starting to be felt when Vale announced nine years ago this month that it had plans to shut down the smelter and refinery in Thompson for good.
At the time that it was first announced, the proposed shutdown date was 2015, though that was later pushed back three years, with operations ceasing about midway through 2018. A bit more than a year before that, Birchtree Mine was placed on care and maintenance status, resulting in the loss of more than 100 jobs.
By the end of last year, the Vale workforce in Thompson was down to 800 or so, about 600 of them unionized hourly jobs, approximately one-third less than it had been at the beginning of the year. Most of the news regarding mining and its associated jobs in Thompson throughout this decade has been decidedly negative.
Given that, it is understandable that a lot of buzz was generated when Vale Manitoba Operations head Gary Eyres told the Thompson Chamber of Commerce a couple of weeks ago that there was a plan – not a definite one as of yet, but a definite possibility – that could see the company spend $1 billion over the next five years deepening its existing mines here to access more high-quality nickel ore.
For the rest of this editorial: https://www.thompsoncitizen.net/opinion/editorial/editorial-thompson-mining-s-future-looking-brighter-but-when-1.24019892