Global commodity prices have fallen off the cliff. ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s largest steelmaker, recently stated that not since the end of the Second World War has the demand for steel fallen so rapidly. Steel is the fundamental building block of all infrastructure and manufacturing activities.
These are extraordinary economic times, so we all knew this was coming.
Yet no one was prepared to see Xstrata Nickel chop its Sudbury workforce in half – 686 layoffs and 210 early retirements. Like most in the community, I am shocked and very, very angry. This kneejerk reaction from Zug, Switzerland has two serious repercussions that will affect the Canadian mining sector for a long time. The first is this: should Canada have allowed foreign companies to take over such a strategic resource as the Sudbury Basin with such weak controls on jobs and investment and, second, how will these severe employment cutbacks impact impending labour shortages in the mining sector?
To be fair, regardless of who owns the two nickel miners, the fundamental issue is that you cannot continue operating if it costs $6 to mine a pound of nickel and you can only sell it for $5.