Following Cameco‘s announcement that the company is laying off 550 employees at its McArthur River and Key Lake mining operations, other businesses in Saskatchewan are beginning to feel the pinch.
Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) has been in business since 1986, and a large portion of its business is shipping chemicals and supplies to and from Cameco’s uranium operations in northern Saskatchewan.
“Cameco has always been somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80 per cent of our business,” NRT president Dave McIlmoyl said.
The company said it was forced to lay off 22 drivers in January when Cameco announced temporary layoffs at the mines. The closures were only supposed to last 10 months, but markets haven’t shown signs of improvement.
“We’ve been six months without any work, our hope was in November they’d start to ramp up again and we’d be able to call the guys back and start working again,” McIlmoyl said. “Now we know they won’t be doing that so the layoffs will become permanent.”
According to McIlmoyl, NRT’s revenues took a 20 per cent hit due to the McArthur River and Key Lake closures.
NRT is 71 per cent owned by Indigenous stakeholders in northern Saskatchewan in an effort to help build the economy in the north, which is where the 550 layoffs took place.
“There’s going to be serious devastation in those communities, mostly from loss of jobs from the uranium mining business,” McIlmoyl said.
NRT plans to keep its eyes on uranium prices while working to diversify its services, with ongoing work in Ontario and across Western Canada. The company said it’s been trying to get away from working with uranium due to the uncertainty of the market.
As for Cameco, its suspending production at the mines. The company does plan to maintain the two mine sites with a workforce of around 200 employees as it waits for a decline in the current oversupply of uranium.
In Addition to the 550 workers at the two mine sites, Cameco also eliminated another 150 positions from its head office in Saskatoon. Cameco reported a net loss of $76 million in the second quarter, which ended on June 30. A net loss of $2 million was reported for the same time last year.
The Saskatchewan government said a response team is being set up for the employees affected by the layoffs. They’re also calling on the federal government to take action to help natural resources industries in the province.