Bridger Coal Mine assisting laid off employees

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Jena Doak, [email protected]

SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (September 29, 2021) — A letter was sent earlier this month to Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo from PacifiCorp subsidiary Pacific Minerals, Inc., announcing it’s closing and the layoff of 94 employees. The news got out, and some people are left with the wrong impression. Yes, the closure impacts 94 employees, but they have known about it since 2016, and are sourced with options to make the transition as seamless as possible.

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The company has done several things over the past few years to help make the change a tenable one. Since January 2017, over 50 employees have been transferred to the surface mine. That mine reduced outside hiring in order to make room for the underground workforce. Around 15 of the employees fronting layoffs already secured positions at the surface mine, and there will be room for around a dozen more. Ten are retiring.

“You saw in the media that 94 people were just going to be laid off without any explanation, and that’s certainly not the case,” said Tiffany Erickson, Spokesperson for PacifiCorp.  

The mine has been working hard to help safeguard employees for a smooth transition. Some have retained employment with PacifiCorp within the six states the company operates. Rocky Mountain Power, whose parent company is PacifiCorp, generates power for Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Two weeks ago, Bridger Coal hosted a job fair for the underground workforce and brought together numerous firms within the mining industry. Around 60 of them interviewed with these companies.

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“These are highly skilled workers, so they are sought after,” Erickson said. “We are hoping to work closely with these employers in the strategic timing of hire dates for those who are interested in those jobs. Politics aside, how we choose to generate power in our generation is driven by economics.”

Resource planning is integrated, a process whereby cost, risk, and reliability is measured. Coal is an expensive generating resource. It does provide a solid foundation, as does gas and nuclear, which are all in PacifiCorp’s long-term plans.

What about the remaining employees?

“They not only have priority hiring within the company, but PacifiCorp gives them access to reskilling and education programs that don’t have to be related to their current job,” Erickson said.

Employees are given a generous amount of freedom to do what they want, whether they stay with the company or decide to do something else. Retraining does take time, and PacifiCorp affords the resources for achievement.

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