North American Palladium announced in late September that due to weak metal prices it has reduced the workforce at its Lac des Iles mine in northwest Ontario by a total of 44 employees, including 18 staff and 26 unionized positions. An additional 17 vacancies will not be filled, resulting in a net reduction of 61 positions. After these reductions the site will employ 422 workers.
Tied to the workforce reduction was a decision to stop blending low-grade surface stockpile ore with higher-grade underground ore and to return the Lac des Iles mill to a 14 days on/14 days off operating schedule. Mill throughput is planned at 13,400 mt/d when it is operating.
Regarding the workforce reduction, North American Palladium President and CEO Jim Gallagher said, “It is unfortunate that we have had to take this step at this time. It is imperative that we maintain a positive cash operating margin and continue our focus on sustainable long-term operation of the underground mine and on our exploration program. These cuts, along with corporate office reductions that took place in August after our financial restructuring, will help us achieve these goals.”
Due to the reduction in low-grade material being processed at Lac des Iles and the impact of a temporary mill shutdown earlier in 2015 as a result of water balance issues, North American Palladium has revised its 2015 production guidance to 160,000 to 170,000 oz of palladium, down from a previous forecast of 185,000 to 205,000 oz. The mine also produces by-product platinum, gold, nickel and copper.