The Canadian unit of global mining and commodities trader Glencore on Wednesday announced the permanent closure of the Brunswick lead smelter, which it said had become uneconomic after the closure of the Brunswick mine in 2013.
The company said that the decommissioning process would begin immediately and the smelter, in Belledune, would cease all operations by the end of the year, affecting more than 400 workers.
Glencore head of zinc and lead assets, Chris Eskdale said in a news release that the decision to cease lead smelting operations was a “very difficult one”.
“We have thoroughly assessed all our options and come to the unavoidable conclusion that the smelter is simply not sustainable, regardless of the recent labour dispute," he said, in reference to a dispute with workers that has been ongoing since April this year.
The Brunswick smelter opened in 1966 and employs about 420 people.
Glencore stated that it would provide pension, severance and outplacement support services for all employees as part of closure settlements to be agreed on.
The company would also seek potential relocation opportunities at its mining and metallurgical operations in other provinces and countries, which might be available to Brunswick smelter workers.
The United Steelworkers (USW) director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario, Marty Warren commented that the pending closure of the smelter was a "devastating blow" to community.
"Glencore is adamant that its decision is final, stating that it cannot operate the facility on a sustainable basis due to global economic factors," Warren said following discussions with company representatives.
USW has 280 members at the smelter.
"The Steelworkers will be pressing the provincial and federal governments, as well as Glencore, to do everything they can to assist these workers, their families and their communities," Warren said.