ESTEVAN -- The Westmoreland Coal Mine in Estevan is permanently laying off 25 of its staff members.

The company told its employees the layoffs come after a drop in demand for coal.

"We all knew the carbon tax is making us more inefficient, more uncompetitive, but we didn’t think that things would be happening this quickly,” Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig said.

Estevan’s Chamber of Commerce says layoffs were expected, as Unit four at Boundary Dam is set to close in 2021 and Unit five is scheduled to shut down in 2024. However, job losses weren’t expected this early.

Ludwig says Estevan has requested money from Ottawa to help pay the pensions of effected employees but has not heard back.

The chamber says the mine is encouraging older workers to retire, since union rules mean layoffs happen to the newest workers.

Jackie Wall, the chamber's executive director, said the city is moving away from coal production and pursuing other energy opportunities, including solar, oil, geothermal and nuclear power.

The union representing the employees says it's working to try and save the 25 jobs.