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Posted on : Nov 15, 2019

Glencore Canada Corporation will begin decommissioning its Brunswick lead smelter immediately and cease all operations at the Belledune, Canada, facility by the end of the year.

The manufacturing facility was established in 1966. The company have lost $30 million per year in the past 3 years and decided to close its operations due to financial reasons.

In north America, there are 15 lead smelters from which 12 are in USA and 3 in Canada.

Out Of 420 employees, 288 have been on strike since April over a contract dispute with Glencore.

The facility was supposed to transition to a custom smelter, with Glencore planning to spend up to $64 million on an acid plant there. The $20 million first phase was completed.

Glencore representative said, “The acid plant project was a three phases project. Phase 1 was necessary for safety reasons and completed two years ago. Phase 2 (approx. $20 million) was cancelled because it would have been very complex to implement while a strike was ongoing. If phase 2 would have been under construction at the moment it would not have change the closure decision because the decision is fully based on the economics of the plant."

It the H1 financial report, Glencore’s chief executive officer, Ivan Glasenberg reported that ‘as well as operating and cost setbacks within our ramp-up/development assets. Adjusted EBITDA declined 32% to $5.6 billion’. 

Chris Eskdale, Glencore's head Zinc & Lead Assets, said in a statement: "The decision to cease lead smelting operations at our Brunswick Smelter was a very difficult one."

Despite years of efforts by committed employees and a strong management team, the smelter has been uneconomic since the closure of the Brunswick Mine in 2013. 

“We have thoroughly assessed all our options and come to the unavoidable conclusion that the smelter is simply not sustainable, regardless of the recent labour dispute.”

Glencore intends to provide pension, severance and outplacement support services for all employees as part of closure settlements to be agreed on. The company is committed to meeting with union leadership to discuss an orderly transition to closure.

The company will seek potential relocation opportunities at its mining and metallurgical operations in other provinces and countries, which may be available to Brunswick Smelter workers. 

The company anticipates that a small number of employees will be retained to work on site monitoring, water treatment and closure projects in the months ahead.

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