Hopes assets are preserved and displaced workers are snapped up by other companies
Wabush Mines may be idled, but it’s still a going concern, says Opposition Leader Dwight Ball
Ball was in Labrador West Tuesday to meet with mine owner Cliffs Natural Resources, as well as with Alderon, the Iron Ore Company of Canada, municipalities representative, the Labrador West Chamber of Commerce and members of the public.
Alderon, looking to advance its Kami mining project, recently said it would consider buying the shuttered mine for its infrastructure, but Ball said it’s important to keep in mind that Wabush Mines can still operate as a viable operation.
“Making sure the assets are there, ore is in the ground, and power is in there, so if there’s a new owner in the future or Cliffs’ restructures (itself), keeping the assets in place is critical,” he
Ball hopes other mining outfits will be able to provide employment to the displaced workers, such as during Alderon’s Kami Mine construction phase.
“That’s important for Alderon, too, and companies looking to set up shop will need a skilled workforce.”
IOC recently posted a notice looking for 50-60 workers, and Ball said that’s one of a number of solutions available.
“I spoke with many companies who have said, ‘I’ll hire six or seven,’ and, ‘I’ll hire eight if it’ll support my own workforce.’ So I think there will be some absorption amongst that.”
There should be a database of skilled workers available, Ball said, so when solutions are sought the individuals can be easily identified.
It’s one of many roles the government can play, he said.
“Some people will be interested in retraining, there’s no doubt about that. This is an opportunity to get that done and it’s something government can do and has done in many other areas of the province.”
Ball’s visit came just a day after cabinet ministers visited Wabush to promote the programs and services the Department of Advanced Education and Skills has available for the miners who lost their jobs.
He said he’s pleased so far with the government’s response.
“Right now it’s early days,” he said.
“It’s not about politics for me. I want to work with government. What I’m interested in is being a part of the solution. They seem to be playing a role as a long-term solution in all of this.”
Ball also said he was glad to hear Premier Tom Marshall approve a new transmission line to Labrador West, which he himself has been pushing for since 2012.
The line is key for Alderon’s Kami Mine.
“If you want to be successful in business and improve the economy you need some important assets in place, and one of those assets in this case is power. And not just more power, but reliable power,” Ball said.
He said many eyes are on Labrador West right now.
“This has been a major, major part of the economy for Newfoundland and Labrador. And we have families here impacted, so it’s important the politicians get here and do whatever they can to ensure the future remains bright,” he said.