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Mine closures shocking but not devastating for communities mayors say

The temporary shutdown of three Saskatchewan potash mines is not raising alarms for mayors in nearby communities — despite the suddenness of the announcement.Nutrien Ltd. announced that it will “proactively” shut down three Saskatchewan potash mines — at Allan, Lanigan, and Vanscoy — for about eight weeks due to decreased demand for fertilizer product overseas. A Nutrien spokesperson said the shutdown will affect around 600 to 700 workers.Vanscoy Mayor Robin Odnokon said while the announcement on Wednesday came as a “shock,” it was “probably inevitable.”“Just by looking at the market … I guess it’s not as surprising that the potash would slow down too.”Odnokon said she couldn’t say exactly how many people who work at the Vanscoy potash mine live in the town or the surrounding area, but she said the shutdown — though temporary — will be felt by everyone in the community.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.The silver lining to this shutdown, she said, is the eight-week timeline. Mosaic Co. announced in August that it would indefinitely close its mine at Colonsay in response to decreased demand for potash, so Odnokon said in comparison the Vanscoy shutdown is not as devastating as it could have been.“That is something positive, if you want to find something positive in this,” she said. “But it definitely will have an impact on absolutely everybody in the community.”Allan Mayor Les Alm shares that sentiment. As he puts it, mine shutdowns have been happening off and on for nearly 40 years. Alm said he’s not too concerned about the town of Allan in the long run.“Potash is cyclic. They have their ups and downs, and when sales are down they typically shut the plants down or the mines are idle,” he said. “I know this was a terrible crop year, I think, around the world.”Alm said the workforce for the Allan potash mine is drawn heavily from Saskatoon and other nearby communities as well as Allan. So while there will be a ripple effect on the town for the weeks when mine workers are laid off, he’s optimistic that this will be a passing problem that will be resolved once the mines reopen, he said.“I really dislike seeing people getting laid off from their work. It’s unfortunate, and I really don’t like seeing this happen, but it is a part of the potash business.”Related Nutrien to temporarily shut down three Saskatchewan potash mines Mosaic to indefinitely shut down Colonsay mine next month Workers safe after underground fire at Nutrien’s Allan potash mine maolson@postmedia.com read more

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