A major layoff has occurred at the Vale hydromet processing plant at Long Harbour.
Bob Carter, Vale’s manager of corporate affairs, told The Telegram this morning the principal contractor at the site has laid off skilled trades workers because major mechanical work on Phase 1 has been completed.
Carter couldn’t say how many have been laid off at this stage, but he estimates it’s in excess of 1,000.
He said the peak workforce in Long Harbour was about 6,000 or more, but now with the first phase being completed Thursday, the numbers will “trail to 600 to 800 workers.”
The contractor plans to begin recalling 600 to 800 workers beginning Tuesday of next week, Carter said.
The layoffs today were expected, he said. “We’ve been alerting the media that there would be a significant reduction,” he said, once major mechanical work on Phase 1 was completed.
Some workers have posted on Twitter that they knew layoffs were coming but didn’t expect them until closer to Christmas.
Related story by Ashley Fitzpatrick
The Telegram reported last weekend that major construction work on Vale's new, multibillion-dollar hydromet processing plant at Long Harbour had been completed.
Construction at Long Harbour began in April 2009.
The development was subdivided into large "phases" of work. The first phase involved constructing all of the buildings and systems required to allow the plant to be turned over to a commissioning team.
"We met our objective," Carter said last Friday. "We had what we call construction mechanical completion on Oct. 30 - one day ahead of target."
In July, with construction on Phase 1 about 86 per cent complete, Vale launched the "Long Harbour Completion Challenge" - offering millions of dollars in new incentives to construction workers, in order to maintain a reasonable project deadline.
The next major phase of work - the start-up of the plant, finishing work at the port site and development of internal systems to allow for the processing of Voisey's Bay concentrate - will require about 1,500 people at peak.
First nickel is expected from the plant in 2014.
Vale will have about 500 long-term technician positions at the site when the plant moves into full operations, with local applicants promised the first look.
More than half of the positions have already been filled, but hires will continue to be added as needed until the plant is in full swing and the full contingent is reached.
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