Cliffs serves layoff notices as Bloom Lake mine set to close by year-end

MONTREAL – Cliffs Natural Resources is starting to lay off workers at Bloom Lake mine in Quebec in preparation for shuttering the operation next month.

The Cleveland-based company says it will suspend activities at the mine about 30 kilometres southwest of Labrador City, N.L., by year-end.

Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) said last week it would exit Eastern Canada amid low iron ore prices after failing to find partners to share the cost of a $1.2-billion expansion required to make the Bloom Lake operation viable.

Steelworkers union representative Dominic Lemieux says layoff notices started going out to about 400 workers in advance of the closure.

He says only about 80 workers will be kept on at the operation for care and maintenance. The mine is in an area known for iron ore deposits.

Lemieux says the only hope for workers is for a buyer to purchase the mine and restart operations.

Closing the mine is expected to cost US$650 million to US$700 million over five years, mainly from three years of costs required to be paid to the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railroad owned by Rio Tinto subsidiary Iron Ore Company of Canada.