New Brunswick

100 PotashCorp miners mark their last day on Tuesday

Tuesday marks the final shift for all but 35 PotashCorp miners in Sussex, who will remain indefinitely to keep the site secure.

A skeleton crew of 35 will remain indefinitely to keep the mothballed Picadilly site secure

Tuesday is the last day of work for about 100 employees with PotashCorp in the Sussex area. (CBC)

Tuesday marks the last day of work for most of the remaining employees with PotashCorp in the Sussex area.

About 100 workers stayed on the payroll at the Picadilly mine for a four-month transition period, which is now coming to an end.

Al Brown is among them. He's been on the job for 29 years, more recently working in the warehouse.

"It's bittersweet but somehow liberating," Brown told Information Morning Saint John.

"I might go for a drink after, celebrate 29 years at this place, but it's just another day in a way. It's another step forward."

Brown plans to spend the summer "doing a lot of golf" before he heads down a new career path.

In September he will be taking a culinary arts program through the New Brunswick Community College, with the hope of joining the workforce again as a chef.

"I've always enjoyed cooking and I've taken a few classes [previously] offered, and I found it did strike a chord with me," Brown said.

"I figured I might as well take something I enjoy doing and I could probably use in the future, and if I don't find gainful employment there it will at least help my home cooking."

Money available for retraining

PotashCorp established a $5 million community investment fund that included training and educational support for its employees moving into new careers.

The assistance Brown is receiving will cover most of his two-year program.

"You can't dwell on [the job losses,] otherwise it'll drive you crazy. You have to look for something to go forward on," Brown said.

I don't see anything getting in my way at this point.- Al Brown, PotashCorp worker

"I made this choice and I'm going to strike out on it, and I don't see anything getting in my way at this point."

Some of the laid-off miners are moving into retirement, some are working locally in the trades, and others went out west to land work.

Brown said a number of those workers have since returned.

"It's a hard trip to make [to] leave everything you know, and your family and your lifestyle. Everything is different out there," said Brown.

It's maybe the same country but there's a vast difference between Saskatchewan and New Brunswick."

​Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced on Jan. 19 it was suspending operations at the mine indefinitely, putting up to 430 people in the Sussex area out of work.

The mine was one of the town's largest employers, and the jobs paid between $80,000 and $120,000.

A core crew of about 35 workers will be kept on at Picadilly for care and maintenance of the mothballed operation.

The $2.2-billion project, which was just recently completed, was expected to have a 73-year lifespan

With files from Information Morning Saint John