Some workers at KGHM in Sudbury are bracing for layoff notices, as the company is shutting down nickel mining at its McCreedy West mine.

The mine was first developed by INCO in the 1970s, and Sudbury miner FNX gave it a second life in the early 2000s. KGHM took over from FNX in 2001.

The vice-president of underground operations for KGHM, Adrienne McFadden, said the mine has two commercial zones — one for nickel and the other for copper.

Nickel is sent to Glencore-Xstrata to be processed, while copper is shipped to Vale, he explained.

McFadden said Glencore-Xstrata has issued a 30-day cancellation clause for the commercial agreement that’s been in place since August 2011 to stop processing the lower grade ore from McCreedy.

“It was short notice, but I don’t want that to indicate a poor reflection on Glencore,” he said.

“We had a great relationship with them. We have ongoing workings with them, specifically, the utilization of the Craig Mine infrastructure.”

He added that, with slumping nickel prices and no processing agreements, there were few options.

“This is an ore body that was closed when the resource was determined to be exhausted by the original owner,” he said.

“The second owner now has actually run that operation for another 12 years. So it’s not a big surprise to anyone in our employ.”

‘Try to save jobs’

Steelworkers 2020 union representative Myles Sullivan said he’s been told between 40 and 70 positions could be affected, but added the hope is to keep that number as low as possible.

“We will be exploring buyout packages so that people can voluntarily leave if they want to … try to save jobs at the bottom end for the lower seniority employees on the list,” he said.

Some of the affected workers could move to KGHM’s Morrison deposit, he added.

KGHM is also developing its Victoria deposit in Sudbury, but production is years away.