A group of pipefitters recruited from Ireland to work on a Saskatchewan potash mine expansion have been unexpectedly laid off.

Twenty-one Irish workers who arrived in the province between three months and one and a half months ago were among 50 workers who received lay off notices from a general contractor working on the expansion of a potash mine near Vanscoy, Sask. about 30 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.

Within a few months of arriving the workers learned that due to changes in the construction schedule they would not be needed at the site again until January, 2013.

"It's an unforeseen circumstance," Mike Long, a spokesman for the construction firm PCL, told CBC News Wednesday.

Long added the company went through an extensive process to find the workers and bring them to Saskatchewan and was not anticipating the change in circumstances.

The workers were offered different jobs, in Regina.

However, the workers declined, saying the nature of the Regina work was different from what they had been promised when they were recruited.

The workers are still eligible to stay in Saskatchewan and find other work.

The provincial government has been actively assisting businesses to attract skilled workers to Saskatchewan.

Ireland was viewed as a worthwhile place to find available people and Premier Brad Wall took part in a job fair in Ireland in April where some 280 people were hired by a variety of companies.