Huckleberry Mine suspended pit operations in January.

Huckleberry Mine suspended pit operations in January.

Huckleberry Mine brings back some employees

Huckleberry Mine has brought back 44 temporarily laid off employees, but still plans on shuttering operations in August.

Imperial Metals announced that 44 people temporarily laid off from Huckleberry Mine will return to work until operations are expected to shut down at the end of August.

“They will be focusing on tailings dam construction,” explained Huckleberry spokesperson and Imperial Metals vice-president Steve Robertson.

He added that some mining in the open pit may also be done if the schedule allowed.

With the recalled workers, there will be about 200 on site, according to Robertson. Workers not laid off in January and December are also still processing stockpiled ore.

Only a hand full of workers would remain after August as the mine enters a care and maintenance mode.

Robertson said that copper prices would have to rebound in order for the mine not to close. After they seemed to start recovering, prices dropped again last week.

“The trend is not in our favour at this point, but we will keep a keen eye on it,” said Robertson.

Imperial Metals Corporation owns a 50 per cent stake in Huckleberry Mines Ltd. The remaining 50 per cent is owned by Japan Group, made up of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, Dowa Mining Co. Ltd, and Furukawa Co.

Imperial Metals announced on March 30 that it lost $97 million in 2015. It also lost $37.3 million in 2014.

The company recorded $3 million as its equity share of Huckleberry’s net loss during 2015.

The company’s financial results report said, “The 2015 loss was primarily driven by the loss from mine operations, foreign exchange losses on non-current debt, the inclusion of interest expense in the Statement of Income effective July 1, 2015, relating to the commencement of commercial production at the Red Chris mine, offset in part by realized and unrealized gains on derivative instruments.The 2014 loss was primarily related to the $67.4 million provision for rehabilitation costs taken by the Company for the Mount Polley tailings dam breach, and foreign exchange losses on non-current debt.

Imperial’s Mount Polley reopened in August last year. The sixth shipment from Red Chris was expected to leave the Port of Stewart this week.