About 220 have already received termination notices; GCC President and CEO Max Wang cited “uncertainties of the continuously deteriorating global coal market” for its decision to cut costs and, thus, staff.

He also called the idling a “temporary suspension,” citing “unfavorable construction timing” for the company’s new mine, though no timelines were outlined.

A union representative told local media including CTV that reopening could take six months to two years.

A 30-member skeleton crew will be kept at the operation in the meantime, Wang said, to develop mining plans and prepare permit and license documents for the upcoming operation.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local 2009 made a statement on its Facebook page, noting that while the company is not obligated to pay out severance, it retains the right of recall.

“In compliance with our contract, employees will be given three months of recall rights per year of service up to a maximum of 24 months of recall,” officials said.

Underground mining at GCC was most recently focused in the No. 7 area and the No. 12 South B2 underground area, according to company maps and data.