Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett helps celebrate Taseke Mines Ltd.’s Gibraltar Mine grand opening of its $325 million expansion in the fall of 2013. On Monday the company announced a seven per cent reduction in its Gibraltar Mine labour force due to struggling copper prices.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett helps celebrate Taseke Mines Ltd.’s Gibraltar Mine grand opening of its $325 million expansion in the fall of 2013. On Monday the company announced a seven per cent reduction in its Gibraltar Mine labour force due to struggling copper prices.

UPDATE: Gibraltar meets falling prices with layoffs

Falling copper prices lead to just under 50 layoffs of management and unionized employees plus 20 contractor positions at Gibraltar Mine.

Falling copper prices have led to just under 50 layoffs of management and unionized employees plus another 20 contractor positions at Gibraltar Mine this week.

The union representing around 350 workers at the mine said it is obviously disappointed with the layoffs of 26 positions, but not surprised given the present markets.

“We’d like to see no layoffs, but many mines are looking at the situation right now and adjusting accordingly,” said Scott Doherty, assistant to the president for Unifor.

Taseko Mines Ltd. vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison confirmed layoff notices went out Monday morning and account for about a seven per cent reduction in the workforce.

Battison said the layoffs are a direct result of falling copper prices which are at a five-and-a-half year low.

“They’ve been declining pretty steadily since 2011,” Battison told the Tribune. “We’ve been watching the economics really closely and are reducing expenditures in all areas of our operations.”

Doherty said the union will be meeting with the company next week to make sure it can offset any impacts to members, as opposed to layoffs.

“If there are people who are retiring or can go early then junior people can stay,” Doherty said, adding he hadn’t heard that any of the layoff positions were presently vacant.

Doherty said within the collective agreement, people who are laid off don’t lose their jobs and still have recall rights.