The union local representing Mount Polley mine workers in B.C. says nearly four dozen people are losing their jobs following the massive tailings pond spill at the beginning of the month.

The containment dam at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine failed 10 days ago, sending millions of cubic metres of water and mine tailings into a creek and two lakes in a remote area of B.C.'s Cariboo, about 600 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

United Steelworkers Local 1-425 president Paul French said Thursday that 42 workers received the layoff notices over the last couple days.

Workers who still have their jobs have stopped grinding ore for the mine, and are instead focusing on building a new dike and cleaning up the mess left by the tailings reservoir breach.

French says the future of the mine, and the economic sustainability of the wider area, is uncertain.

"Well, the mine actually has an effect on the entire region. You've got over 380 unionized employees and I think the spinoff from that are probably close to 1,000 indirect jobs with contractors, suppliers and everything else. So, it's huge."

French said the mine workers getting cleanup duties are lucky, but are also just living day to day until they hear from the provincial government what will happen next.

The mine operator, Imperial Metals, has scheduled a public meeting for Thursday night to update the community of Likely, B.C., on cleanup progress.

Mount Polley mine tailings spill cleanup, Aug. 2014

The mine tailings pond earthen wall failed, releasing 10 billion litres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden fine sand into Hazeltine Creek, Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake. (CBC)

With files from the CBC's Rafferty Baker