Vapor-work: Potash Mine Goes Belly Up

7 06 2014

[Editor: You know all the JOBS JOBS JOBS you were supposed to get from mining shale gas/potash/cadmium in New Brunswick? Guess what? They go up in smoke faster than an envelope in a candle flame.  Just as this potash mine was supposed to begin producing potash, they laid off 80 people because they lost so much money on the deal. “And somewhere, some landlord is laughing till he wets his pants.” Lou Reed.]


SUSSEX • As the newly constructed potash mine near Sussex reaches the home stretch in its goal to begin producing potash this fall,the man who has been at the helm leading the province’s largest development will step away.

  Stewart Brown, general manager of New Brunswick operations for Potash-Corp (TSE:POT), will retire the end of this month. He will join 80 other people who accepted retirement packages from the company earlier this year after it became clear layoffs were necessary because of price and demand of potash in worldwide markets.

 At the end of this month, as people settle into new roles, retirees and the 50 people facing layoff will work their last day. At the same time, men will exit the Penobsquis mine for the last time and potash mining will cease there.They will move across the road to the new Picadilly site and, along with the workers on that location now, get acquainted with the new operation.

Brown said when he moved to Sussex with family three years ago, he considered it his last post.

“After 40 years in mining,I thought the opportunity was right to retire,” Brown said.“When we moved here we thought this would likely be the last move we would make for the job.”

It was in the spring of 2011 when Brown transferred as general manager of PotashCorp’s Allen division in Saskatchewan to oversee the project of mass proportions at the company’s New Brunswick site.

It has been an era of significant change at the New Brunswick site of Potash-Corp. In 2007, the company announced it would build a $1.7-billion mine across the road from its Penobsquis site in Picadilly.

Construction began, hundreds of people were hired and the region was on the upswing with new jobs and great enthusiasm over the new mine that promised longevity for work in the region. The project set this part of New Brunswick as not only one to watch, but one that would help drive the economy of the province when other regions were struggling.

Brown feels he is seeing the important project to a pivotal stage.

“It was a goal of mine to help set up the mine for future success,I feel I have done that,”Brown said.“There is still a lot happening every month and there are a lot of moving parts before we get into production,but once the team is in place you have to let them play the game.

“And we’ve got a good team in place.”

Taking over Brown’s role by the end of the month is Jean-Guy Leclair, who has been working as the general manager of PotashCorp’s Cory division.The native of Bathurst joined PotashCorp at its Lanigan mine in 2009.

“A New Brunswicker coming home to New Brunswick from out West to work, that’s a nice reversal”Brown said.

Brown said working in Sussex on the largest construction project in the Mari-times has been a challenge, and a privilege.

“Picadilly is a great project,” he said. “It’s going to set the area up for success for a long time going forward”

Before PotashCorp made the decision to invest in the project because of brine inflow into its Penobsquis mine, there was a risk of closure and the loss of hundreds of high-paying jobs in the region.

Brown said that when potash mining stops at the end of the month in Penobsquis, and those leaving work step away, work in July, August and September will focus on the resettlement of roles and preparations for the commissioning of the new Picadilly mine.

On Oct. 1, the first potash will be produced at Picadilly, the result of a seven-year project that has seen millions of dollars in both direct and spinoff economic benefits for the region.

Since Brown has been in the region, nearly as often as he has spoken about the mine project he has been handing out cheques to charities on behalf of PotashCorp.The biggest contribution was $1 million to see the PotashCorp Civic Centre built in Sussex,and hundreds of smaller donations have gone to other groups since then. He expects Leclair will be seen by the community as often.

“To me it’s always been a priority to help support the community we live in, both in terms of supporting the initiatives that matter to our employees and the broader community as well”Brown said.“These are all groups doing an important job in the community, so offering support, on behalf of PotashCorp, to the good work they are already doing has been my pleasure.”

Stewart Brown, general manager of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan’s New Brunswick division, speaking to a Saint John Board of Trade audience last year. He has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this month.

Photo: Kâté Braydon/telegraPh-Journal




One response

21 07 2014
Ticked Off

Watch out for Jean-Guy LeClair. He will come in an layoff many people. Take a look at Cory Division. From the first day he started he talked about how unstable the mining industry is and sometimes you have to move when a mine downsizes or closes. Get ready to move.

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