Glencore to shut Canadian smelter by year-end, over 400 jobs lost

The Brunswick Lead Smelter in Belledune, New Brunswick. (Image: Google Maps.)

Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN) is closing up its Brunswick Lead Smelter in Canada’s New Brunswick province by the end of the year, as the unit has become “uneconomic” since the mine closed six years ago.

The plant, which employs about 420 people, processes lead/silver concentrate, by-product from the zinc smelter and a wide variety of recycled materials, including batteries and lead glass.

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

“We have thoroughly assessed all our options and come to the unavoidable conclusion that the smelter is simply not sustainable”

Chris Eskdale, Glencore’s Head, Zinc & Lead Assets.

The first phase, worth about $20 million, was completed, but the project was cancelled in August amid a contract dispute with unionized workers, which included safety concerns.

Employees and the United Steelworkers (USW) union, who represent more than half of the smelter’s employees, were scheduled to block today three of Glencore’s facilities in the Montreal area, beginning at the company’s Raglan Mine headquarters, in Laval,  just around the time the closure announcement hit the wires.

They say they have been off the job since April 24 in a contract dispute that included safety concerns.

“We have thoroughly assessed all our options and come to the unavoidable conclusion that the smelter is simply not sustainable,” Glencore’s Chris Eskdale, head of zinc & lead assets, said in the statement.

Eskdale noted the labour dispute was unrelated to the decision to close the facility in Atlantic Canada, adding that the company intends to provide pension, severance and outplacement support services to all employees as part of closure settlements to be agreed on.

The Brunswick smelter opened in 1966.

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