WHITEHORSE—A company operating an open pit copper mine in central Yukon has laid off the majority of its crew.
About 58 employees working at the Minto Mine were notified of the impending layoffs on Sept. 22, said Jennifer Byram, vice-president of Pelly Construction Ltd.
The cuts were completed over the Oct. 1 weekend.
"I personally called them and told them," she said.
"It's really tough. It's hard to lay off people."
The Whitehorse-based construction company will keep six employees on site.
While the layoffs were difficult, Byram said they didn't come as a surprise because Capstone Mining, which owns the site, has been holding regular town hall meetings, keeping staff up to date.
Ron Light, Minto Mine's general manager, said there is a chance Pelly employees could return to the site to strip and mine the next open pit as early as January, pending a decision by Capstone Mining.
The company has already given the green light for underground mining to continue, he said.
Pelly employees have been working at the Minto Mine on and off for 20 years, and every day for the last 10 years, Byram said.
"So if you think of it in those terms, we've had a pretty good run at the Minto Mine... and hopefully we'll go back in January," she said.
Located about 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse, the Minto Mine is primarily a copper operation, and it also produces gold and silver.