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Freeport to Cut 430 Jobs at Sierrita Mine

Workers tend to a truck at Freeport-McMoRan’s Sierrita Mine in Green Valley. Photo credit: Freeport-McMoRan

By Tony Davis for Arizona Daily Star

Freeport McMoRan Inc. will eliminate 430 jobs — more than one-third of the workforce — at its Sierrita Mine in Green Valley in January because of plunging prices for the molybdenum and copper mined there.

The company is also evaluating the economics of shutting down the operation, Freeport officials said Thursday.

For now, production at the open-pit mine will be cut 50 percent, said Colette Brown, Freeport’s Southern Arizona regional community development manager, in an email to the company’s Green Valley-based Community Partnership Panel.

The Phoenix-based company had already announced another 130 job cuts at the Sierrita Mine in August. About 1,310 people currently work there, and the August job cuts have yet to take effect.

The company anticipates the Sierrita layoffs will occur between Jan. 11 and Jan. 25, 2016, Brown wrote. Those whose jobs are eliminated are encouraged to apply for openings at Freeport mine sites in Morenci in Eastern Arizona, at the Chino Mine near Silver City, New Mexico, and the Climax Mine in Colorado, Brown wrote.

These are the latest in a series of job losses at Arizona mines this year due to the sinking price of copper and, in Sierrita’s case, molybdenum, as well. Freeport suspended mining in Miami, in Eastern Arizona, in August, and Asarco announced that month that it would lay off up to 211 workers in Hayden.

The job cuts come six years after it appeared Freeport would expand operations in the area — with copper prices soaring then — when it purchased the adjoining Twin Buttes Mine in Sahuarita, which has been shut since 1994. But that mine has not reopened.

Read more at Arizona Daily Star

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