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Mosaic lays off 1000 workers: cites weakening demand

Declining prices for fertilizer and weakening demand are combining with the hard financial times as Mosaic Company announced Monday the indefinite layoffs at two of its plants in Saskatchewan.


January 14, 2009
By CBC/Canadian Press

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January 13, 2009 

Regina, Saskatchewan -Potash and fertilizer producer Mosaic Co. (NYSE:MOS) has issued layoff notices to 1000 workers in Saskatchewan and dealt a blow to the province's economy which has been booming due to high commodity prices.

Mosaic said the layoffs affect 700 people in Esterhazy and 300 at its Colonsay operation. The indefinite layoffs are effective February 15 in Esterhazy and March 8 in Colonsay.

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A spokesman said the Plymouth, Minn., based company is "experiencing the challenges, as most industries are, with the way the economy is."

Saskatchewan's resources-based economy has been booming in recent years. Solid growth in agriculture, high commodity prices from oil and gas resources and potash revenue have fattened the provincial coffers.

But the province is now beginning to feel the impact of lower commodity prices, which have led to job cuts across primary industries in Western Canada.

Mosaic announced last week that it is reducing its output due to weakening demand for fertilizer and higher costs for raw materials and other inputs.

The company previously announced that it was reducing phosphate production by about one million tonnes through December 2008. It now plans to reduce production by up to an additional one million tonnes through fiscal 2009.

Officials with the United Steelworkers of America, which represents workers at the Colonsay mine, and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, representing those in Esterhazy, were unavailable to comment Monday.

However, there was plenty of reaction in Esterhazy, where word of the layoffs quickly spread.

"I'm kind of surprised that the number is that high that's for sure, but again with what's happening in the world market … a lot of the guys have fully expected something to happen," said Mayor Herb Hozjan.

Hozjan is also a maintenance supervisor who has worked at the mine for 30 years. He noted that Mosaic is the biggest employer in Esterhazy and that the area is dependent on the Mosaic mine and a Potash Corp. mine in nearby Rocanville.

To see the rest of this article, go to: www.cbc.ca/cp/business/090112/b0112179A.html


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