Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake is laying off between 40 to 60 workers, Mayor Walt Cobb said Tuesday, April 20.
Reading from a statement at the end of the committee of the whole meeting he received from Taseko Mines, Cobb said the layoffs are happening because the company has been waiting for approval to restart an existing pit.
Cobb said layoff notices were being distributed Tuesday to 40 people in mine operations, including truck drivers, drill and shovel loaders and operators that will go into effect on April 27, 2021.
“The existing pit on the property known as Gibraltar East Pit is a pit they have already mined. This is known as a simple rescheduling of the normal mine sequence,” Cobb read out.
In the pit is low-grade ore so there is no need to take off the overburden.
Normal circumstances require the company to give notice of intent to do so by filling out what is called a notice of departure with the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Cobb said, noting however regulators have decided this now requires more than a notice of departure, saying an amendment to the existing permit is needed which requires a process of consultation.
Cobb said the process of consultation started in May 2020, with numerous extensions and no decision has been made yet.
“I don’t know where to go from here, other than send a letter to the minister stating our disapproval of the process,” Cobb told council.
Thanking the mayor for the update, Coun. Scott Nelson said it hits the heart.
“This is $7 million of lost opportunity. You are talking about 60 families being unemployed, in the next couple of days that should not have to happen,” Nelson said.
City council doesn’t make final decisions at committee of the whole meetings, however, agreed Cobb should write a letter as well as phone the premier, asking him to intervene.
Reached late Tuesday evening, Taseko vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison said because regulatory decisions have not been made work cannot continue which forces these layoffs.
“Working people needlessly pay the price for this government indecision,” Battison said. “It seems that B.C. is entering a world where decisions are much talked about and consulted about, but seem rarely to actually get made and are easily delayed.”
Battison said he hopes it gets resolved soon.