Glencore Canada’s Brunswick lead smelter. (Photo: Google)

Glencore Canada Corp. announced the permanent closure of the Brunswick Lead Smelter in Belledune, New Brunswick. The decommissioning process will begin immediately and the smelter will cease all operations by the end of the year.

“The decision to cease lead smelting operations at our Brunswick Smelter was a very difficult one,” said Chris Eskdale, Glencore’s Head Zinc and Lead Assets. “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.”

Eskdale said the company assessed all options and decided the smelter was not sustainable, “regardless of the recent labor dispute.”

“I would like to express my gratitude to all Brunswick smelter employees, past and present, for their tremendous commitment and efforts over the many years of operations,” he said. “We are fully committed to working closely with employees and unions as well as other community stakeholders to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”

The Brunswick smelter opened in 1966 and employs approximately 420 people. Glencore said it intends to provide pension, severance and outplacement support services for all employees as part of closure settlements to be agreed on. The company said it is committed to meeting with union leadership to discuss an orderly transition to closure.

The company said it will look for potential relocation opportunities at its mining and metallurgical operations in other provinces and countries that may be available to Brunswick Smelter workers. The company will also work with local stakeholders and agencies to identify opportunities for regional economic development.

Glencore will meet all of its closure obligations with respect to environmental and other regulatory requirements. 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.