Graymont announced on April 22 that it will be indefinitely idling its lime plant and quarry at Pavilion, between Cache Creek and Lillooet, as of June 30, 2016. The closure will affect some 40 workers, 28 of whom are from the Ts’kw’aylawx First Nation (TFN), on whose land the Pavilion plant sits.
The move comes in the face of soft market conditions that have impacted the lime industry across North America, says Rob Beleutz, Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager (Western Canada) for Graymont. “The plant will be open as usual until June 30,” he says. “But we wanted to give time to work with the employees and communities who have been instrumental in the operation of the plant.”
The company hopes to find solutions that will help mitigate the impact of the idling. Once the plant closes, only three or four employees will remain, to look after the care and maintenance of the facility.
Employees were notified of the decision on April 22, after Graymont had received the approval of the TFN chief and council. “We have a pretty strong relationship with them,” says Beleutz, noting that the company wanted to ensure that employees were informed as soon as possible. “Some have been here for many years, and we’ll be meeting with the employees, the union, and the band for important discussions in the next few weeks.”
Beleutz says the decision to close the Pavilion plant was made in the face of a reduced demand for their product across the board. “Lime supports a number of markets. A lot goes to the mining industry, and to oil, as well as steel and glass manufacturers and agriculture.”
Graymont plants are, he says, strategically placed to supply certain markets, with the Pavilion plant primarily supplying the mining industry. “When those markets start to slow down, so do we.” In mid-March the company restructured its operations in Tacoma, Washington, cutting the number of employees there in half.
Beleutz said at first that he could not anticipate when the Pavilion plant would be re-opening, but later stated that the company does not see it re-opening at this time. “Idling is a big step to take,” he says. “But now we have to decide how to move forward.”