Freeport lays off 650, slows operations at Chile's El Abra mine

miércoles 2 de septiembre de 2015 15:29 GYT

SANTIAGO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Arizona-based mining company Freeport-McMoRan Inc said on Wednesday it was dismissing some 650 workers at its El Abra copper mine in Chile and partially suspending operations at the complex until mid-September as it cuts mining rates in half.

Last week, Freeport, which owns a 51 percent stake in the mine in northern Chile, became one of the first big global miners to announce it was slashing production because of slumping copper prices.

The company said it suspended mining, crushing and stacking operations at El Abra on Tuesday and expects to resume them in mid-September. Operations at the mine's solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) plants will not be affected during the transition period, the company said.

"Implementing this reduction in the operating rate at El Abra reduces operating costs and near-term capital requirements, and provides a longer mine life for its existing Sulfolix ore reserves with a better opportunity to sell its copper production into an anticipated improved copper market in the future," Freeport said in a statement.

Earlier this week, a Chilean union that represents copper mine workers rejected the drastic job cuts and said it was considering action. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Gregorio)