Colonsay, Sask., Mayor James Gray said Jan. 28 was an extremely tough day.
Mosaic announced an indefinite shut down of its potash mine near the town and he says it will have a direct impact on about two dozen households in that community alone.
Gray said those impacts include cuts to the town’s revenue.
“It’s going to be hard to figure out to make ends meet because you’re going to have to cut somewhere … and where do you cut?” he asked.
The mayor said the town is normally waiting on $20,000 to $30,000 in unpaid taxes at this point of the year.
Currently, that figure is more than $100,000.
On top of a blow to town coffers, Gray said businesses have been seeing fewer customers.
The community’s Co-op gas station, store and agro centre said less traffic has been in the area since the mine was initially idled in August.
“Overall, it hasn’t been huge. We really support the community so we see a lot of customers still coming back into our store and supporting us. But there certainly has been a bit of a slowdown in that traffic,” said Saskatoon Federated Co-operatives Ltd. spokesperson Jade Gulash.
Co-op said the store’s business hours and employee workloads haven’t been adjusted because of the mine closing, but it will monitor the situation and make changes as needed.
The mayor added how a number of locally-run businesses have shut down, including a bar and a café.
He’s doubtful the town will return to what it was before 340 employees were laid off last summer.
“You have to carry on not just the same as what you’ve been doing. You’re going to have to figure out how you can make the town grow without it,” Gray said.
A handful of the employees have moved to Mosaic’s Esterhazy location.
The company said it will offer transition services, scholarships and family assistance plans to affected workers.
The union representing the workers said it is attempting to set up a meeting with Mosaic as to what will happen next.
In the provincial government’s growth plan, Premier Scott Moe set a target of $9 billion in potash sales by 2030.
Saskatchewan’s energy and resource minister said the target is still attainable despite the Colonsay mine being shut down and Nutrien’s Vanscoy mine still temporarily closed.
“There are these short-term market issues and certainly these have an impact on these workers and so of course that’s to be taken very seriously. We hope to see employment in the sector return to recent levels once some of these market issues are resolved,” Bronwyn Eyre said.
“We remain convinced that Saskatchewan potash producers are well-positioned to capture the growth in demand and help the province meet those targets in the growth plan.”
Nutrien said there is no recall date for the Vanscoy mine, but it is expecting workers will be back on the job towards the end of February.