Yukon's Minto mine postpones layoffs until June

Capstone Mining plans to continue its underground operations at Yukon's Minto mine until June. The original plan was to finish this month, as the mine moves toward temporary closure next year.

Temporary reprieve for some workers, but mine closure still on track

Capstone's Minto mine in summer 2015. The copper mine is about 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse. (Capstone Mining Corp.)

A few dozen workers at Yukon's Minto Mine have been given a temporary reprieve, as Capstone Mining postpones a round of layoffs.

The company originally planned to cease underground mining at the Minto site, 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse, this month. Now, operations will continue until June.

"We've elected to mine what's called 'Area 2' underground," said Ron Light, the mine's general manager. That involves about 35 contract workers, he said.

Otherwise, the copper mine's temporary closure plan is still on track. 

Light says open pit mining will continue until August or September and milling stockpiled material will keep the Minto site active until next year.

"The price [of copper] has come up a bit recently, but it doesn't appear to be sustainable at this point. Therefore, we haven't made any change in our original [closure] plan for April 2017," Light said.

"We're all hopeful that the markets will turn around. Our employees' morale seems to be still fairly high, we're going to keep everybody employed for as long as we can."

Minto is currently Yukon's only working mine. It employs about 320 workers, about half of them contractors.