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Pend Oreille mine closure becomes official: layoff notice for 165 filed with state

Canadian mining company Teck Cominco has filed paperwork with Washington state, three weeks after announcing that it intended to temporarily close its Pend Oreille zinc mining and milling operations near Metaline Falls, has made it official.

The company’s notice says it intends to lay off 165 workers, effective Feb. 16.

“This layoff is permanent,” reads the layoff notice, filed with the state Employment Security Department. (I have pasted a copy of the notice in the extended version of this post.)

The company announced Dec. 15 that “due to reduced metal demand and the persistent weakness in zinc prices” it would temporarily shut its Pend Oreille operations. The closure followed a recent decision to reduce zinc refining at its Trail site in British Columbia, the company said.

The company says that in February, its operation “will move to a care and maintenance status” to keep the mine compliant with environmental and other permits and “in prime condition to return to production when market conditions improve.” The workers will get severance pay and other benefits, the company said.

Teck had re-started the mine in 2004. According to the company, it has produced 170,000 tons of zinc.

The notice was filed by Teck Washington, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teck Cominco Limited.