Unemployed Grande Cache coal miners get opportunity for work at job fair

Tuesday in Grande Cache local laid-off coal miners attended a job fair put on by the Donkin Coking Coal Project. Donkin is reopening a mine in Cape Breton, and is recruiting Albertans.

220 workers lost their postions when local mine closed on Christmas Eve

Grande Cache Coal closed its mine on Christmas Eve, putting 220 employees out of work. (CBC)

During lean economic times Canadian workers have often been told to go west in search of work.

The reverse was true Tuesday in Grande Cache where local laid-off coal miners were attending a job fair put on by the Donkin Coking Coal Project.

Donkin is reopening a mine in Cape Breton, and is recruiting Albertans.

A total of 220 workers lost their jobs when the local mine in Grande Cache closed on Christmas Eve.

Theunis Victorius, who moved to Grande Cache from South Africa four years ago, says he would attend the job fair. But the thought of moving across the country doesn't thrill him.

"It will be one, one big, big change, but if that's what you have to do, you have to do it," Victorius said during an interview on CBC's radio show Edmonton AM on Tuesday.

But what Donkin is offering is a good deal for Grande Cache's unemployed miners, says Gary Taje, a member of the United Mine Workers of America, which represents the Grande Cache miners.

"It's a very good prospect for a good number of our Grande Cache coal employees," said Taje, who added the town has been quiet amid constant speculation about when the mine might reopen.

He expects about 100 people will attend the job fair.

People have been leaving Grande Cache in a scramble to find work, Taje said, while others are planning to wait it out. But he is advising people to look for employment elsewhere.

Grande Cache miners are skilled veterans who would be a great fit for the Donkin mine, he said, maintaining it's "the best prospect coal miners have."

Donkin expects to start operating in late spring.

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