Nova Scotia

Fundy Gypsum mine closes permanently

The American owners of a gypsum mine near Windsor have decided to permanently close it.

The American owners of a gypsum mine near Windsor have decided to close it permanently.

In January, 42 people at Fundy Gypsum Co. lost their jobs when United States Gypsum Co. idled the quarry and ship loading facility in Hants County indefinitely.

It was hoped Fundy Gypsum would reopen. But on Oct. 31, the parent company told American regulators it had decided to permanently close the operation and take a $51-million charge to wind it down.

A company spokesperson in Chicago blamed the closure of the mine on continued weakness in the U.S. housing market.

Right now fewer than 10 people remain on site to wind down operations.

In addition to the lost jobs, the closure is bad news for places like the Town of Hantsport, which took in $745,000 a year in municipal taxes from the company.

Fundy Gypsum had been operating in the area since 1924.

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Graham Steele said he's convinced another company will step forward to operate the mine once the economy improves.

"I think if people look at the history of that quarry over the past 80 years, it goes up and down in tandem with the U.S. housing market," he said.

"Now whether it's that particular operator or another one, the resource is there and the U.S. housing market will recover. It just could be a number of years out before that happens."

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil said the province should be working to find a new market for gypsum. 

"Government has a responsibility to go in and say, 'Is there a place for the resource? Is there a place to process this resource to fill other markets in the globe?'"

McNeil said the government should have more to offer the dozens of people who are now out of a job for good than a vague promise that those jobs will be back some day.

In February 2010, the company received Nova Scotia government approval to expand its operations by another 105 hectares.