The hundreds of lay-offs at Cameco’s two mine sites in the North, which the company expected would be temporary, are now permanent.
World uranium prices are low, leading the mining giant to announce 550 job losses at their McArthur River and Key Lake sites with another 150 workers to be laid off at their main corporate office.
“We said at the time we’d be watching the market closely, hoping for some improvement that would encourage us to bring these assets back into production; in fact we saw none,” CEO Tim Gitzel told paNOW. "The price dropped in the period we were down. There’s just too much supply out there right now.”
Last November the company announced 845 people would be out of work and most were off the job by early February. The hope was those job losses would last around 10 months, but the failure of the commodity to bounce back on world markets painted a much bleaker picture for workers, their families, and the economy in this part of the province.
“We’ll be as fair as we can with our employees, and most of our northern employees will still remain on that temporary layoff until mid-November at which time we’ll introduce severance packages,” Gitzel said.
Two hundred workers will remain on the books to ensure safe care and maintenance of the two sites, but Gitzel could not forecast when the price of the metal would return to levels that would allow a re-start to production. Though the short-term outlook was gloomy, Gitzel remained optimistic about the long-term picture.
“We’re encouraged by the fact that nuclear power is still on around the world with about 450 reactors operating, another 57 under construction, and Japan coming back on, so we see growth,” he said. “If we didn’t see growth it would be a different scenario.”
Gitzel said the market's current surplus of uranium was mainly due to the nuclear accident in Japan seven and a half years ago, which temporary halted their uranium consumption.
The fallout for Saskatchewan will total tens of millions of dollars in income disappearing each year in salaries.
On Twitter: @princealbertNOW
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