Community Rallies to Save Kidd Creek Metallurgical Site

January 19, 2010, 2:22 PM EST

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A community rally held by the Save the Met Site Coalition in Timmins, Ontario brought together nearly 2,000 enthusiastic supporters determined to ensure Xstrata's Kidd Metallurgical Site remains open.

Xstrata Copper Canada announced in December it plans to permanently shut down its copper and zinc metallurgical plants in May 2010. CAW Local 599 represents 615 workers at the facility. 670 Kidd employees plus an estimated 200 contractors will lose their jobs.

After the company's announcement, a local coalition was formed made up of unions, businesses and political leaders as well as concerned citizens. A public meeting held on January 17 attracted an overwhelming response from the regional municipalities.

CAW Local 599 President Dennis Couvrette said it's time for the entire community to speak out.

"We all have to agree that what Xstrata is doing is wrong," Couvrette said. "They are at the point in their history where [they believe] Kidd Creek employees are expendable."

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the great community turnout demonstrates how important the issue is for everyone in Timmins and the surrounding area.

When Oshawa was dealing with the potential closure of GM, the Premier stepped in to help and the same help should be offered to the people of Northeastern Ontario, Lewenza said according to the Timmins Daily Press.

"This means as much to this community as Chrysler does to Windsor," Lewenza said. "This is not just about what's good for us, but for the next generation."

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said the whole community will be impacted and that to stop the closure the Mining Act must be changed. Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren encouraged concerned citizens to send emails, letters and to make calls to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry.

Ben Lefebvre, Chairperson at Xstrata Copper said that the company is making tons of money despite their claims to the contrary. "During the three year period ending December 31st, 2008 Kidd made nearly $1 billion in net profit," said Lefebvre. "Base metal prices are back up to historical highs. Xstrata's announcement simply does not make sense."

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