It seems strange that in boom times a mining company would lay off employees, but that is what ST ANDREW GOLDFIELD has had to do. The company has given temporary lay-off notices to 79 of its 192 employees at its Holloway Holt gold project 45 km northeast of Kirkland Lake.
The company said the laid-off workers were underground miners, surface and support workers who were involved in underground development, which has been suspended. In the meantime, St Andrew is focusing its attention on definition drilling in preparation of a new resource estimate and technical report. The layoff will last a “few months”, according to the company.
To me it is unbelievable that a company today would cut loose its skilled underground workforce, temporarily. In the meantime, those miners will find jobs elsewhere. There are many, many opportunities between Kirkland Lake and Timmins. With skilled manpower in short supply across the country, these miners may leave the area altogether. Then St Andrew will have considerable trouble replacing them.
If there is a union involved in the decision, it has not issued a statement that I have seen. It seems that a union might want to negotiate a rehiring agreement to ensure that future jobs are offered first to its members. If the mining company has a strategy for rehiring, it has not said so.
Here is an idea: how about lending out the surplus workers to another project on the understanding that they will return to Holloway Holt when they are needed? That may turn St Andrew into contractor, briefly, and the company may find it’s a good source of additional income.
With the current shortage of skilled workers, St Andrew appears to have been short-sighted not to make plans to keep its work crews together.