Canada-based Huckleberry Mines (HML), 50%-owned by Imperial Metals, has suspended pit operations at its copper mine in British Columbia due to weak metal prices.

The remaining 50% in Huckleberry Mines is owned by the Japan Group, comprising Mitsubishi Materials, Dowa Mining and Furukawa.

The company’s latest decision is expected to cut 100 of its 260 workforce. It plans to retain the remaining personnel to continue milling stockpiled ore.

"The realised savings have not been sufficient to offset declining copper prices."

Imperial Metals said in a statement: "While HML has made significant efforts to reduce operating costs at the Huckleberry mine, the realised savings have not been sufficient to offset declining copper prices.

"HML will continue to work with employees and other stakeholders to manage through this difficult period."

Platts quoted Imperial Metals spokesman Steve Robertson saying that suspension of pit operations may continue until first quarter of 2016.

Robertson said: "We’re going to process stockpiled ore and that will give mine management the opportunity to observe the copper market and pick a direction."

The open-pit copper mine Huckleberry is located 88km from Houston in west-central BC and covers 19,780ha.

The area comprises two mining leases covering 2,422ha, in addition to 39 mineral claims totalling 17,358ha.

In 2014, Imperial’s share of copper production from Huckleberry 17 million pounds copper and 91,600oz of silver.