PotashCorp lays off workers in N.B. as demand slumps
Published Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:36AM AST
Last Updated Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:41PM AST
Layoffs are coming to one of the region’s largest industrial employers, but PotashCorp says they will be temporary.
Today, the mining giant was trying to reassure communities in southern New Brunswick that better times are just around the corner.
Many of the mine’s 500 employees were told this week they won’t be needed for the first two months of 2013.
“Our Brazil shipments have slowed down through to the end of the year, which is not unusual, but overall it’s been a tough year for potash,” says general manager Stewart Brown.
The impact will likely be felt on Main Street in Sussex, where shopkeepers are decorating for the Christmas season and hoping miners will still be in the mood to spend.
“We meet a lot of people who are at the mine,” says shopkeeper Sandra Bourque. “They do a lot of their Christmas shopping here. Even the mine, when they buy Christmas gifts, they try to give as much to the local economy as they can.”
The industry is centered in the Penobsquis and Sussex area, but anything that affects the industry is felt throughout southern New Brunswick, and especially in Saint John.
The potash terminal contributes millions of dollars annually to the Port of Saint John and to the local economy.
Layoffs at the mine will mean fewer working hours for longshoremen and for others with jobs tied to potash.
“It’s a world economic problem. Not just a problem in Saint John,” says Pat Riley of the International Longshoremen’s Association. “Certainly we’re going to be affected by that, and that’s the case here. The Brazilian market is down right now, but it’s going to be back.”
Company mines in Saskatchewan will also experience temporary shutdowns.
PotashCorp is currently spending almost $2 billion on a new mine and predicts the recent downturn will not last.
“This is no way indicative of where we see the industry going,” says Brown. “We see steady growth over the long term.”
Meanwhile, Main Street is hoping for a new year that will see the industry quickly bounce back to full employment.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron
PotashCorp will permanently close the older of its two potash mining operations in New Brunswick in November.