Huckleberry Mines has told its employees that it plans on shutting down all operations by Aug. 31.
The announcement came after pit operations were suspended in early January and 100 workers were laid off. Twenty more were laid off in December as declining world demand saw copper prices plummet.
The remaining 160 workers were kept on to mill stockpiled ore. Almost all will lose their jobs, according to Huckleberry spokesperson Steve Robertson.
“The plan is we won’t be able to restart pit operations, but we will be able to continue to process stockpiles; and it looks like we will probably exhaust that available source of ore mill feed sometime at the end of summer – so around Aug. 31 we’ll be suspending operations at the mine all together,” said Robertson.
He added that management is trying to find a way to keep operations going, but that is very dependent on an increase in the value of copper.
The detailed plan for mine suspension and the work that requires will be worked out closer to closure, according to Robertson.
B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett is holding a press conference Friday morning in Williams Lake to announce, as the press release reads, “action to help keep thousands of B.C.’s metal and coal mines workers on the job, by supporting their families and communities, during the current slowdown in the sector due to low commodity prices.”
Robertson said he could not speculate on what effect, if any, the announcement could have on Huckleberry.
Imperial holds 50 per cent interest in Huckleberry Mines Ltd., (HML) owner/operator of the mine. The remaining 50 per cent is held by the Japan Group, comprised of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, Dowa Mining Co. Ltd. and Furukawa Co.
Imperial Metals and representatives from its nearby Mount Polley mine will be attending the announcement by Minister Bennett.
Huckleberry is an open pit copper mine located 130 kilometres south of Smithers.