One of largest employers in the Exploits region will be closing its doors in the next year, putting about 300 employees out of work.
Teck Resources Ltd. Duck Pond Operations, a copper and zinc mining operation in Millertown, will not extend its mine life past April, 2015, according to general manager Larry Bartlett.
Bartlett said Teck came to the conclusion after reviewing the results of its latest exploration, drilling into what was called the Lower Duck Deposit. The mine’s current operation had always been slated to clue up in 2015, but there was hope the Lower Duck Deposit could extend the mine life for a number of years.
“There just wasn’t enough tonnes of high enough grade to make it economical. It’s just too small and not rich enough,” Bartlett said. “So by the end of the first quarter of 2015, that is going to be the end of the mine.”
Teck Duck Pond has been in production since 2007 and employs 280 full-time and around 40 part-time employees.
Bartlett said their employees come from all over the province, with the bulk from the Exploits region, including Badger, Buchans, Buchans Junction, Millertown and Grand Falls-Windsor.
“We’ve had crew meetings all this week letting them know the results of the drill and what that means. All our employees are now aware. We finished that last night,” Bartlett said.
“It’s pretty disappointing for everyone.”
Bartlett said the news is still fresh for all the employees of the mine, and executives will have to make some tough decisions about how to proceed in the coming weeks.
“We’ve been full speed ahead trying to analyze this Lower Duck Deposit and now that we’ve come to the conclusion it’s not there, we just have to take a step back and see what this means for us exactly,” Bartlett said.
“We’ll be looking at that over the next few weeks and by mid-February we expect to be able to come back out with (more) information.”
This is the second time in five years the Exploits region has lost a major industry; in 2009 the Abitibi-Bowater paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor shut its doors leaving hundreds out of work.
The Advertiser will bring you more on the Teck Duck Pond story over the next few days, on our website and in our print editions.