“The ramping up of our Esterhazy K3 production combined with continued weak demand in North America has left Mosaic’s potash business with excess inventory and production capacity,” Mosaic president and CEO Joc O’Rourke said Tuesday in a release.
“This decision will regrettably impact employees, but allows us to optimize our Canadian production assets and improve our cost position in a competitive market.”
Sarah Fedorchuk, Mosaic’s vice-president of public affairs and government relations, said Tuesday’s announcement is a continuation of idling the mine in August 2019 when 340 of the company’s hourly workforce were laid off.
“The site will remain idled for the foreseeable future,” Fedorchuk said in a statement.
“While a difficult decision to make, giving our Colonsay workforce a clear picture of our plans is an important step in allowing them to best prepare for their future.”
Fedorchuk said the company will be providing transition services, educational bursaries and access to other services like its employee family assistance plan.
“While some of our salaried Colonsay employees have moved on to new roles in other areas of the business unit, this decision will impact the remaining approximately 80 salaried staff,” Fedorchuk said.
“We met with them today to discuss their role, varying end dates or other opportunities.”
Roughly 45 positions will remain in place at the mine to complete safety and regulatory checks as well as conduct minimal maintenance. Mosaic said the minimal staff will allow for the resumption of operations once customer demands increase.
The company said it is taking a fourth-quarter pre-tax charge of approximately $530 million due to the idling.
It said the write-off is principally the carrying charge of its 2013 expansion project, which increased operating capacity to 2.1 million tonnes annually.
Mosaic said it has been operating with a modified 1.5 million tonnes capacity since 2016 and does not expect to use the expanded capacity in the foreseeable future.
Colonsay is approximately 60 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.
-With files from Thomas Piller