PotashCorp employees at the Picadilly mine near Sussex are finding out more today about who will stay and who will go when the site is closed indefinitely.
About 100 employees will remain on the payroll for a four-month transition period, while 35 will keep working to maintain the mothballed facility for as long as operations are suspended.
April Glendenning was not one of the lucky ones. Glendenning, who works in the lab, says she knew she wouldn't be.
But it was still an emotional day, she told CBC News, as she loaded her work boots and other items from her cleared out locker into her car.
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"To come in today, to see my co-workers, to be told by management, 'Sorry, but we have no jobs for you,' it really put it into perspective," said Glendenning.
"It really solidified the fact that I don't have a job anymore after 10 years of calling this home," she said.
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced on Jan. 19 it's suspending operations at the mine indefinitely, putting up to 430 people in the Sussex area out of work.
Company officials were meeting with salaried employees on Tuesday about the coveted 135 positions, and plan to meet with hourly workers on Friday.
About 100 positions in Saskatchewan are also up for grabs. Anyone can apply for those jobs, including people from outside the company.
But a special effort is being made for Picadilly mine workers, with their applications being fast-tracked this week, officials said. Interviews are slated for next week, they said.
PotashCorp has offered to pay up to $60,000 for relocation costs.
Glendenning says she's considering applying.
"There's a lot going through my mind today. The gentleman who just walked by, my nickname for the last 10 years has been Muffy," she said, her eyes welling up. "So you know, like I said, these guys are like family. And there's a lot of emotion today."
The economic impact of the job losses in the community of 4,300 is expected to be hard-hitting and widespread, Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne has said.
The mine is one of the town's largest employers, and the jobs pay between $80,000 and $120,000, he has said.
Picadilly, a $2.2-billion project, which was just recently completed, was expected to have a 73-year lifespan.
But Mark Fracchia, the president of PCS Potash and a former general manager for the New Brunswick mine, said the plunge in potash prices on the world market and a drop in demand from China, combined with the challenging geology of the area, left the company with no alternative.
Fracchia has said PotashCorp will establish a $5-million fund to:
- Help employees with job transition assistance, including skills training and education support.
- Provide financial support to local business.
- Support local charities.