KGHM laying off 120 employees as Morrison Mine in Levack goes into care and maintenance

KGHM says about 120 people will lose their jobs as it transitions the Morrison Mine in Levack into 'care and maintenance' mode. Sudbury General Manager Steve Dunlop says Morrison is no longer profitable due to slumping copper and nickel prices.

87 of the jobs are unionized, 33 non-unionized

KGHM is planning to shut down its Morrison Mine in Levack by the end of March, laying off 120 workers. (KGHM)

KGHM says about 120 people will lose their jobs as it transitions the Morrison Mine in Levack into "care and maintenance" mode.

Sudbury General Manager Steve Dunlop says the Morrison deposit is no longer profitable due to slumping copper and nickel prices.

"What's happening is a combination of ore body depletion and metal prices, so we are seeing that it's no longer economic to keep mining and what we're looking to do is put the Morrison Mine into "care and maintenance" at the end of March," says Dunlop.

The company is re-opening the nearby McCreedy West Mine which will absorb some of the workers from Morrison. 

Dunlop says it's a more affordable operation that is closer to the surface and they'll extract more precious metals like palladium, platinum and gold.

Dunlop says the loss of 120 employees from a workforce that is already quite small is disheartening. 

"One of the most frustrating things is that we're losing some phenomenal top-notch professionals, and experienced, dedicated miners. We have no doubt they'll be scooped up by other companies and really go on to do amazing things but it's really tough losing such quality individuals," says Dunlop.

KGHM says Morrison Mine could re-open in the future if the markets improve.

Myles Sullivan is the northeastern Ontario area coordinator for the United Steelworkers union. (Casey Stranges CBC)

That mineral deposit in Levack has been mined since 1915. It was owned by INCO and called the Levack Mine before shuttng down in 1997.

The rights were purchased by FNX in 2002, which re-opened it as Morrison Mine five years later. Five years after that, FNX was taken over by Polish mineral giant KGHM. 

The 87 unionized workers getting laid-off are represented by the United Steelworkers.

 Northeastern Ontario area coordinator Myles Sullivan says he understands KGHM had to make a tough decision. 

Sullivan says he's hoping the stress doesn't affect the miners' concentration as they work toward the March deadline.

"I'm encouraging our members to work safe. They've got until Mar. 31 to continue to work underground. Those are safety-sensitive jobs they do so that with all this going on we're really trying to get the message to our members to try and keep your mind on the job, and work extra-safe during this time," says Sullivan.

with files from Kate Rutherford

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