Galmoy mine to close with the loss of 220 jobs

 

MORE THAN 220 workers are to lose their jobs at a mining company over the next three years.

Workers at Galmoy Mines in north Co Kilkenny were told the mine is to close completely on a phased basis by July 2011.

In a first wave of redundancies 36 workers at the zinc-mining operation are to lose their jobs by the end of this year.

Management at the mine blamed dwindling zinc resources at Galmoy and a drop in the price for metal worldwide on its decision to close the plant.

“That’s life in mining unfortunately, and we’re faced with a reality that by 2011 we will have exhausted zinc resources at Galmoy,” said Stefan Mansson, managing director of Galmoy Mines Ltd.

Galmoy Mines, which is owned by the Canadian-based Lundin Mining Corporation, employs 221 workers, 105 of whom work in the mines.

Disheartened workers spoke of their upset at hearing the news yesterday morning.

“It’s hitting home hard now for a lot of the lads in here,” said miner Gerry Kavanagh.

“We’re miners and our qualifications wouldn’t be that high, so employment options outside this business are quite slim,” said Mr Kavanagh, who lives close to Galmoy with his wife and four children.

“I came from a building site to work at Galmoy nine years ago, and to go back on to a site now, if I could find one to take me, would be some feat.

“These redundancies have been rumoured for some time now, yet we’ve heard nothing from our politicians about setting up a task force to deal with the inevitable fallout,” he said.

Intensive negotiations took place at the plant yesterday between Siptu officials and management over an agreed redundancy package worth 6.75 weeks’ pay per year of service, inclusive of bonuses, for their workers.

“We’re satisfied that the package on offer exceeds the national average. However we have to take into account other factors in ensuring the mine can thrive until 2011 to retain employment there,” said Denis Hynes, Siptu branch organiser in Kilkenny.

“Mining is the only business where you take something out without putting anything back in,” said one employee leaving the plant yesterday. “When the resources are gone, they’re gone.”

Local Fine Gael county councillor Mary Hilda Kavanagh said the job losses would hit the area hard.

“It’s absolutely devastating for families in the area affected by this closure. In the past there was somewhere else to go such as the construction industry but there’s nowhere to turn for these workers at the moment.”

Senator Alan Kelly (Labour) said the Government had questions to answer on the closure.

“While the chief executive of Galmoy has claimed that the closure is largely due to the fact that the mine will be exhausted by 2011, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, told the Dáil earlier this year that Galmoy had discovered additional resources which had the potential to extend the life of the mine.

“ The workers are entitled to an explanation for the conflict between the two statements.”