Tata Steel Canada mine in Schefferville to temporarily close

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The Tata Steel Canada mine in Schefferville will temporarily close

Some of the mine's 360 employees will be laid off. (Archives)

Tata Steel Canada will temporarily cease the majority of operations at its Schefferville mine effective November 30. At least 100 people could lose their jobs soon.

Tata Steel Canada Vice President Eric Luneau said the decision was made due to the economic environment , in particular the fall in the price of iron on the international markets

Luneau says some of the mine's 360 employees will be laid off. The latter refuses to quantify the number of employees who could lose their jobs temporarily, but hopes that this number will be less than 200.

For the regional coordinator of the United Steelworkers of Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nicolas Lapierre, this temporary closure is not a surprise.

As long as the market doesn't go up, it's going to be difficult to operate. »

— Nicolas Lapierre, Regional Coordinator of the Syndicat des Métallos

What we know is that the product that is extracted is not a high value-added product. […] In this context, as long as the price does not become attractive enough for them [Tata Steel], I do not see how they could resume operations, adds the regional coordinator.

All the employees concerned could return to their jobs at the end of February. On that date, the company could reopen the mine if the economic situation improves.

Workers who will remain in place will be responsible for servicing and maintaining equipment.

Nicolas Lapierre expects some of the employees he represents will lose their jobs after Nov. 30, when the mining company ceases operations. In order to reassure the workforce, the coordinator is evaluating the possibility of moving workers elsewhere in the country.

There will be layoffs, that's for sure.

—Nicolas Lapierre, United Steelworkers Regional Coordinator

From the moment we get down more minerals, it is clear that the employer will not keep 12 employees, so it is expected that it will have an impact, layoffs, he adds.

Nicolas Lapierre represents the dozen employees who work for the KLTR (Knob Lake and Timmins Railway). This railway transports ore between the Tata Steel mine and the town of Schefferville.

Nicolas Lapierre hopes this closure will be temporary.

For the administrator of the city of Schefferville, Jean Dionne, this is not good news. The event also reminds him that forty years ago, the mining company Iron Ore Company (IOC) announced the closure of its plant, which had led to the virtual closure of Schefferville.

Jean Dionne calls, however, to put into perspective the impact of this temporary closure of Tata Steel on Schefferville.

Mr. Dionne explains that a large part of the city's economic activities revolve around the services offered to the two Aboriginal communities in the region.

The administrator of Schefferville intends, however, to ensure that this temporary closure will not have too many consequences on the local businesses and the employees of the mine, installed in the city.

According to its estimates, approximately 13% of the number total of Tata Steel employees live permanently in Schefferville. For the rest, employees work according to the commuting model, commonly referred to as the fly-in fly-out.

With information from Charles -Etienne Drouin

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