On Wednesday, November 20, the Northern Silica Corporation informed their employees that the plant will be shutting down for a month, starting on December 4.
All employees will be temporarily laid off, and will resume work on January 8 in the new year. The news comes after a series of orders for the month of December fell through, leaving the company no choice but to shut its doors.
“It’s no secret, everyone can read the news and see what’s happening in the oil industry out in Alberta,” said Cullen McCormick, the general manager of the plant. “We didn’t have a choice until all those things are rectified, and then we will be back up in January to continue operations.”
Northern Silica Corp. has been working on building storage for their product as well, which is scheduled to be finished mid to late December. Had those been completed earlier, the plant could have continued operations, according to McCormick.
The Alberta oil industry is one of Northern Silica’s primary customers, and the recent downturn in the economy has resulted in the temporary layoff.
“At this point, our plan is to carry on with our regular production and sell our product,” said McCormick. “The future is a little bit uncertain right now with the economy in Alberta, the oil industry is not in a great place, but we’re going to continue on and make decisions as information develops.”
Northern Silica Corp. is looking to diversify its businesses in the face of the continued economic downturn in the oil industry. Recently, they’ve been looking into solar power and solar panels, with McCormick stating that they’ve sent off materials for testing to see if it’s something they can proceed with.
“A big focus of ours right now is diversification,” said McCormick. “Unfortunately when we look into these things, they’re not just going to happen overnight. It takes time to make those plans come to life.”
With the future uncertain, Northern Silica plans to move forward and stick to plan as best as they can, with all employees guaranteed to resume work on January 8 according to McCormick.