CBC News has learned plans to extend the life of the Voisey's Bay nickel mine in northern Labrador by moving operations underground – already once delayed – are now on hold.
Mine owner Vale says a depressed market has led to a review of all projects, including Voisey's Bay underground.
"The nickel price has been depressed for some time now with no immediate or short-term relief in sight," wrote Vale spokesperson Cory McPhee in an email to CBC News.
"During this period we are not approving any new project contracts."
'The nickel price has been depressed for some time now with no immediate or short-term relief in sight.' - Cory McPhee
In 2015, Vale announced plans to move operations at Voisey's Bay underground when the open-pit was exhausted. The company said doing so would extend the life of the mine by 15 years and create 450 jobs.
Then in December 2016, Vale said construction would be delayed by a few months, but still planned to start mining underground by 2020.
Now, McPhee says the project is on hold.
"Pending the outcome of that review we will be in a better position to know what the path forward for the underground project looks like," he wrote.
Provincial government hopeful
A statement emailed from the department of natural resources and attributed to minister Siobhan Coady said Vale's review of planned projects would not affect day-to-day operations at Voisey's Bay or at its nickel-processing plant in Long Harbour.
"We do know that the underground mine at Voisey's Bay offers tremendous economic development opportunities; although timing is now under review given the challenging commodity price environment," the statement said.
Neither Coady nor McPhee said when Vale's review would be complete.
"We hope that Vale's review leads to a continuation of plans for the underground mine," Coady said.