Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 16, 2014

‘It was very sad here today,’ vice-president says

Pelly Construction vice-president Jennifer Byram said it was sad day today as she delivered 44 permanent layoff notices this morning at the Minto Mine.

By Chuck Tobin on January 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

PIT PRODUCTION REDUCED – Pelly Construction announced layoffs today after it was informed last week that Capstone mining was reducing production in its open pit mine by 50 per cent. Inset JennIfer Byram

Pelly Construction vice-president Jennifer Byram said it was sad day today as she delivered 44 permanent layoff notices this morning at the Minto Mine.

The layoffs became necessary after the Capstone Mining Corp. informed Pelly Construction last Friday it would be cutting the rate of open-pit mining at Minto in half, from 10,000 cubic metres per day to 5,000, she told the Star.

Byram said Capstone has indicated it will be back to the full capacity once it receives the necessary permits to begin stripping the Minto North pit, though that’s not expected until mid-summer.

“We’ve told our employees this is permanent with hopes to be back in August but no promises until we see the permits,” she said.

The 44 workers represent 38 per cent of the 116 employees and subcontractors Pelly Construction had employed at the mine site.

Byram said the layoffs affect a variety of positions, from heavy equipment operators to safety and service co-ordinators.

The eight subcontractors laid off are mechanics, she said.

Byram said the remaining 72 employees are required to support the four heavy haul trucks which will maintain their 24/7 operations.

Capstone vice-president Cindy Burnett said this morning from Vancouver there will be no reduction in the 160 to 175 Capstone employees at the mine site nor sub-contractors who provide support services such as camp catering.

“It’s the mining we are slowing down, not production and not the mill, and it’s Pelly who does the mining for us,” she said.

The company is still planning to run the mill at around 4,000 tonnes per day, she added.

Minto general manager Ron Light said the Minto Mine will be pulling from its stock pile to make up for the reduction in material coming out of the open pit.

What’s critical now is obtaining the necessary permitting to move into the Minto North phase beginning this summer, he said.

Light said Capstone could have kept up full production at the current pit, but that would have resulted in exhausting all available work for Pelly Construction in three months.

It was felt it’s better to cut pit production and keep Pelly working, hopefully until the Minto North phase begins, he said.

Light said this morning’s layoffs were immediate.

After Byram delivered the news, the affected employees were transported back to Whitehorse.

“It was very sad here today,” Byram said earlier this morning.

“It was a sad day for all of us, especially since this crew has been together for a while. They are like a family.”

Byram said Pelly Construction might be able to find a couple of jobs with Porcupine Enterprises, the company it owns part of and which is scheduled to begin construction of the winter road to Old Crow at the end of the month.

After Pelly received notice last Friday of the cut in production from the open pit, the company spent the last few days trying to figure out how to minimize layoffs, she said.

The layoffs were based on seniority and the position, she added.

It’s difficult to tell employees who have been loyal to the company and their jobs that they’re suddenly out of work, she said.

The Capstone vice-president said Capstone also has a couple of vacancies it will try to fill with those who were laid off today.

Pelly Construction has provided the Minto Mine with the open pit mining and stripping work since the mine began stripping operations in 2006.

By Chuck Tobin
Star Reporter

CommentsAdd a comment


Jan 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm

This is more of that stable economy that mining and the Yukon Party promote.


Jan 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

Did not see any executives being cut how interesting.

Binyamin Kogan

Jan 17, 2014 at 4:31 pm

@BnR Relying on the federal dole is the most stable economy, perhaps everyone should adapt to the government services model

Just Say'in

Jan 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm

So here is how it should work. When Government types who drag their feet on these kinds of approvals hold up production it negatively affects employees and their families causing them huge hardship. I think when this happens all Government offices that deal with mines and regulate them should share in that hardship. If thirty % of the mining jobs are lost, then thirty % of the jobs in Government that service and regulate that industry should be gone as well. Cause and affect. Ramifications of your decisions or lack there of. If we don’t have mines then we don’t need, water use guys, licensing guys, mining inspectors, Wildlife types, land use, Regulatory boards and safety people. It should be far reaching and immediate. There are consequences for these actions and everyone in the private sector feels it immediately, as should those who govern it.

Sylvia Burkhard

Jan 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I didn’t get the impression that its the regulating folks fault entirely that the permitting process is delayed, hopefully they will be up and running full strength asap and perhaps the government should start putting some eggs back into the tourism basket and look at perhaps becoming forward thinking in renewable power, there are jobs and $ in that area.

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