The Province

Friday, 1/ 24, 1992

Reporter: John Bermingham

ITS CURTAINS FOR CASSIAR

Towns death looms as govt rejects mine bailout. The lights are going out in Cassiar.

The provincial cabinet yesterday turned down a last-ditch $13 million loan to the Cassiar asbestos mine, which supplies the northern B.C. mining town with power, water, and garbage removal. And 1,100 angry townsfolk say their town is on its deathbed.

"It will become a ghost town," said Karen Muir, acting president of Local 6536 of the United Steelworkers of America. "It will be the last day unless we get some form of direction from the government."

"Cassiar does not have the resources to continue the operation," she said. "Its a question of when we will close down. If the government will not give us support we don not know who else can help."

The future of 450 employees rests with creditors owed $57 million by Cassiar Mining Corp., which was saddled with debt while developing and underground mine. Tracey Kellar, whose husband Brian has put in 14 years at the mine, said there was little prospect for the towns survival.

"They generate our power, do snow removal, provide water, garbage removal," said Kellar, 31. "They even own the property the town is situated on."

With 15 children to feed, Linda McGill is praying her husband Jim can keep his mine job: "There are no jobs to go to and we cant afford to move out of here."

Don Campbell, who manages the towns community center, said Cassiar could be without electricity within a week.

Contributed by Simone Rowlinson

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