VENEZUELAPublished by MAC on 2007-05-22
Hecla suspends activities at Isidora on protests
By Anthony Esposito, Business News Americas
22nd May 2007
Idaho-based Hecla Mining has temporarily suspended mining activities at its Mina Isidora gold mine near El Callao in Venezuela after local residents blocked access to the operation, the company reported in a statement. The roadblock was initiated the week of May 6 and mining activities were suspended shortly thereafter, company investor relations VP Vicki Veltkamp told BNamericas.
The company expects to see a 10%, or 12,000oz, reduction in gold production for the year due to the stoppage, which would be reflected in second quarter results, the statement said. According to Hecla, the residents are asking the company to address community infrastructure and unemployment issues in the rural area where the mine is located.
"Generally those things clear up fairly quickly, this one is lasting a little longer and will have some impact on production in the second quarter and we felt the obligation to disclose that to the market," Veltkamp commented. The protest consisted of a few dozen people initially, but has been reduced to four or five people at a time, she said. "At first there were a few Hecla workers, who then actually quit the protests as well. By far we have the majority support from our employees and the larger of the unions there," Veltkamp added.
"We're trying to come up with a way to maintain our good community relations, that historically we've had in Venezuela and in El Callao, so that the community understands our position and we can come to a satisfactory conclusion that both helps them and is economic for the mine," said the VP. Mina Isidora is part of the company's La Camorra unit in Venezuela which was previously expected to produce 120,000oz gold this year.