Just a couple of week before the holidays, BHP Billiton plans to layoff 76 employees, most of them in Saskatoon, to offset a steady decline in commodity prices.
“We had a tough year last year of significant reduction in commodity prices and all of the money we use to pay for the potash project and everything globally comes from those commodities, so as a result we don’t have much cash available,” said Chris Ryder, head of corporate affairs with BHP Billiton.
About 70 of the layoffs are coming to BHP’s head office in Saskatoon, with cuts to multiple departments including human resources and finance, with only a couple of cuts coming to site workers at the Jansen Potash Mine. Ryder said layoff notices have been delivered and they will happen this month through the June 2016. That means some will be without a job heading into the holidays.
“Unfortunately some people will be losing their jobs before Christmas and obviously that’s something we’re not happy about and we’re making sure we work hard to offer fair severance and that they’re treated with respect,” Ryder said.
The forecast doesn’t look promising either as Ryder said BHP doesn’t expect commodity prices to change significantly over the next 12 months, so they need to restructure their corporate ladder to keep ongoing projects economically viable.
“In order to advance Jansen we need to provide the most robust economics possible and at the same time spend as little cash getting there,” Ryder said.
The news comes the same day StatsCan released its latest report showing Canada lost 35,700 jobs in November, bringing the country’s unemployment rate to 7.1 per cent.