36 laid off at Quinsam mine

Decline in demand and prices for thermal coal cited by company as the reason

Quinsam Coal has permanently laid off 36 workers due to weaker demand and lower prices for thermal coal.

“It’s certainly a very difficult decision and a very difficult time,” said Gary Gould, vice-president of Hillsborough Resources.

Quinsam is the only underground coal mine in British Columbia and the only underground thermal-coal mine in Canada. The mine is located about 20 kilometres west of Campbell River, just off Highway 28, and has operated for more than two decades. Quinsam produces thermal coal which is used to power the furnaces at concrete and electrical-generating plants. It sells most of its coal domestically and to Japan. But in the last two years, said Gould, demand has dropped off along with prices. As a result the 36 workers were laid-off Feb. 3, leaving the mine with 110 employees.

In spite of the setback, Gould said the company is closely monitoring markets and will be ready when demand and prices pick up. The company will also continue looking for more coal reserves.

“We will continue to focus on increasing our permitted reserves on the mine site. Those efforts will continue,” he said.