As the cold and snow of winter approach, some workers at the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador can expect to be laid off as seasonal work wraps up and other parts of the project move into different stages.

Gilbert Bennett, a vice-president with Nalcor on the Lower Churchill development, says there are certain parts of the project, such as the North Spur, where it doesn't make sense to do work through the winter.

"If we look at the North Spur for example there are some activities there that can only be undertaken outside of freezing conditions," Bennett told CBC's Labrador Morning.

"There are other locations where we're placing rock, which you could do through the winter but we'll get to the point where there will be enough snow that it's not worth while to continue fighting the snow."

Nalcor's Gilbert Bennett on North Spur

Nalcor's Gilbert Bennett says it doesn't make sense to struggle through challenges in the winter in an effort to continue work on certain parts of the Muskrat Falls project. (CBC)

According to Bennett, the changing season means there will be hundreds of layoffs.

"It's part of the nature of the project, the workforce is there when we need the work. Contractors can adjust their workforce size in reaction to their requirements over the course of the project. It's a normal transition from one type of work to another."

Bennett added in certain areas, such as the spillway site, are moving out of the civil work and on to different phases of construction. That means contractors will be looking to hire new workers with different trades.

Cost comparisons

The latest report from Nalcor put the Muskrat Falls behind schedule, with first power now not expected until 2018, and another 10 per cent over budget at a forecasted $7.65 billion.

According to Bennett, trying to push through the winter with an eye to keeping on scheduled or moving ahead doesn't make sense.

"You have to look at the cost of keeping going, whether it's the cost of heating, form work, keeping materials from freezing, fighting the snow," he said.

"When you look at the cost of that and then you compare that to the schedule impact you have to manage both of those factors and do what's most efficient."

He said Nalcor will continue to work with its contractors to ensure the work is being completed efficiently to maintain the schedule.

Bennett added there are parts of the project where winter conditions are ideal, including work on the transmission line that would be more difficult in the spring when the ground thaws out.