Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says Gibraltar Mines will be laying off between 40 and 60 staff.
Cobb says he received the information in a call from Gibraltar Mines Monday night, and received more information on Tuesday. Cobb read the following at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting.
“Gibraltar Mines near Williams Lake, BC, is forced to lay off mine workers. Lay-off notices will be issued [Tuesday, April 20th], at Gibraltar mines for at least 40 people in mine operations and they will be affected, truck drivers, drill shovel loaders, and operators. The lay off will go into effect April 27th, 2021. Gibraltar wants to restart mining in the existing pit on the property known as Gibraltar East Pit, so this is a pit they’ve already mined. This is known as a simple rescheduling of the existing mine plan sequence. Normal circumstances require us to give notice of our intent to do so by filling what’s called a Notice of Departure with the Minister of Energy and Mines. A simple paper exercise when the mining sequence deviates from their five-year conceptual closure and reclamation plan. However, regulators have decided this now requires more than a notice of departure, saying an amendment to our existing permit is needed which requires a process of consultation. The combination of bureaucratic review and consultation started in May of 2020. There have been numerous extensions to firm timelines and still deemed ‘no decision’. Restarting mine operations in the Gibraltar East Pit would have kept mine workers working.”
“This process began 11 months ago, these layoffs did not have to happen,” Cobb stated, “We talk about COVID and the restart and forestry and every time they turn around, basically what we’re getting is roadblocks.” Cobb suggested sending a letter to the Minister of Energy and Mines stating Council’s disapproval of the situation. Councillor Scott Nelson later recommended sending the letter to the Premier’s desk to intervene as well, with Councillors Brenner and Ryll supporting.
“These are tough times out there, every job we’re clawing for during COVID, so when you’ve got an established, reputable company that’s in our backyard that is bending over backwards to ensure that their families are employed and looked after, this hits the heart” Councillor Scott Nelson added, “When you’ve got bureaucracies that are out of control and consistently putting up stop orders are not working with companies to ensure there’s a smooth transaction. This is $7 million in lost opportunities, you’re talking 60 families that are going to be unemployed in the next couple of days. That should not have to happen.”