Capstone Resources' Minto mine is laying off workers and slowing mining in its pit.

The move is calculated to avoid a total shutdown while the company waits for permits to be issued so it can begin work on a new pit.

Ron Light is the general manager at the Minto copper mine near Pelly Crossing.

He says 44 of the 116 people working for contractor Pelly Construction in the pit have been laid off.

“What we're doing effectively is reducing our production so that we can extend the period that we can keep the employees until our next permitting phase is completed,” Light says.

“Then we would move to the next open pit.”

Jennifer Byram is a vice president at Pelly Construction.

She says layoffs are not unusual in the mining industry, but it was sad day nevertheless.

“These people were hard working, highly skilled, loyal crew and it was hard to let them go.”

Ron Light says there's been no unexpected problems with the permitting for the new pit.

But he's hoping the permits will be approved by August when the existing pit is shut down.

Light says there's no impact on the mill or the mine's copper output.

Government and industry don't see major implications for the mining industry as a whole in the Yukon from the Minto slowdown.

Mines minister Scott Kent says the problem is a matter of waiting for permits.

“That's something as a government we're committed to, is to assist them and help them get those permits as soon as possible so that they get back to full production and hire these staff as soon as they can.”

The new executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines agrees.

Samson Hartland says ensuring permits are issued on a timely basis is something all levels of government should pay attention to.

Capstone Resources is not complaining about the permitting process.

But it says the sooner it can be done, the better.