Crunch time?
Miramar, union plan talks, and prepare for colder temps

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 16/98) - With temperatures dropping, Con mine owner Miramar Mining will soon have to decide its next move.

If the strike continues, the company will have to prepare the mine's equipment, beyond normal winterizing procedures needed for an operating mine.

As of Monday, the company has not decided to mothball the mine for the winter, Miramar spokesperson Brian Labadie said Tuesday morning.

"(But) far be it from us to sit on our butts and do nothing. There's no point in seeing it (Con) damaged and cost a fortune to bring it back up," Labadie said.

Before Miramar decides to mothball Con, Labadie said there would have to be no possibility of resuming contract talks.

"I'm not saying positions have changed. If everyone's willing, we'll sit down and talk. I'm not going to make a decision to mothball until I know there is no hope of agreement."

In fact, Labadie is in Yellowknife planning to meet with union members Thursday.

"We have a meeting scheduled for Thursday," Cliff Moroz, United Steelworkers of America Local 802 president, said.

Moroz said the union is preparing for colder temperatures by building winters structures at the picket line.

Con miners went out on strike mid-May.

If Miramar mothballs the mine for winter, the company will lay off a substantial percentage of its salaried employees -- perhaps two-thirds of its about 50 salaried staff, Labadie said.

Labadie also said the company will not shut the mine completely.

"There's still gold in the ground."

Gold has recently shown minor signs of life but is still weak. The London Tuesday afternoon fix was up $4.60 US to $290.65 US from $286.05.