Mining giant Vale admits it may have to look outside the country to hire specialized workers to finish its massive nickel processing facility in Newfoundland's Placentia Bay.

However, Vale says it wants to explore other options first to find such skilled workers as welders and pipefitters for its site at Long Harbour, where the company ultimately intends to process nickel mined at Voisey's Bay in northern Labrador.

To accomplish that, the company is moving skilled workers from its port site to its main construction site, which the company calls the upper tier.

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Vale's Bob Carter says seeking foreign workers would be a last resort for the company. (CBC )

"Because we are short some of those resources, we thought it was best to redirect those resources to the upper tier," Bob Carter, Vale's director of corporate affairs, told CBC News.

On Friday, layoff notices were handed out to more than 250 workers with skills that are currently not needed at the main site.

Vale, which now plans to finish the port site later, admits it is concerned that it will not be able to find all the workers it needs within Canada.

The company is applying to the federal government for permission to bring in foreign workers.

"Thus far we've been able to keep pace," said Carter. "But our projection over the next few months is that we will be short a number of pipefitters and welders and we will reach outside the country only if we have to."

Joan Shea, Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of advanced education and skills, said she is watching the situation at Long Harbour very closely.

"These jobs are primarily meant for the people of this province," Shea said in an interview.

"I want to make sure that as we move forward and as this project continues that the agreement that we've come to, that ensures that Newfoundland and Labradorians have the options for these jobs, that that is followed," said Shea.

With files from Mark Quinn