MARATHON, Ont. — Marathon Mayor Rick Dumas sees both negative and positive aspects in Barrick Gold Corp.'s announcement that it is making operational changes at its Hemlo mine, 35 kilometres east of town.
The company announced Thursday that operations are being "modernized and refocused" to secure the mine's continued viability.
Layoffs are one of the outcomes.
The announcement included no numbers, but Barrick said it is "inviting the majority of employees working underground to participate in a voluntary separation program."
Sources in Marathon say they expect about 80 employees will ultimately be out of a job.
Other Barrick workers will likely be hired by a Manitouwadge-based company to which Barrick is contracting some of its operations.
Dumas said "It's a devastating blow to anybody who's going to be affected, but at the same time, we have to be positive that the mine is going forward in a way that is gong to be economically sustainable for our communities as well as the future of Barrick Hemlo."
The mine's general manager, Ian Butler, told Tbnewswatch "We don't have any hard numbers," saying the company had only met with its underground workers in the last 24 hours to discuss voluntary separation.
Barrick's chief operating officer for North America, Catherine Raw, said in a statement that the performance of the 34-year-old mine has recently "lagged, highlighting the need for remedial action."
Those actions include a move to contract mining and the introduction of new technology.
Raw said the changes will extend the mine's life.
"By repositioning Hemlo as a smaller but more profitable business, we are ensuring that it will continue to deliver value to its community, employees and other stakeholders for years to come," she said.