MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining crisis still hits hard on workers around the world

Published by MAC on 2009-04-20
Source: Multiple sources

Toledo Mining reduces capex; cuts jobs at Berong mine


14 April 2009

Philippines-focused nickel miner Toledo Mining Corp Plc (TMC.L) said on Tuesday it stopped all capital expenditure beyond necessary maintenance during the quarter ended March 31 and cut more than 600 jobs at its Berong nickel mine.

The company also said it "drastically" reduced its manning numbers at Ipilan nickel project and head office, while lowering spending to cover only regulatory or mandated levels. Toledo Mining said the Chinese market for laterite ore declined further during the quarter and is expected to remain depressed well into 2009.

Shares of the company were down 7 percent at 38 pence at 0720 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ramkumar in Bangalore; Editing by Tresa Sherin)

Lihir to sack 200 at Ballarat mine Alex Wilson

The Australian

15 April 2009

LIHIR Gold is to slash 40 per cent of its Ballarat mine workforce, and cut its production guidance and forecast spending on the operation for this year.

Although scaling back work would reinforce the long-standing scepticism of many investors in regard to Ballarat, one analyst said the cut to spending might be taken as a positive because it meant less money was tipped down a mine some regarded as a black hole.

Despite the lowered guidance at Ballarat, the company as a whole remained on track to produce between 1 million and 1.2 million ounces of gold this year, according to Lihir.

It had produced more than 300,000oz in the first quarter, signalling a strong quarter from its flagship Lihir Island mine in Papua New Guinea.

Lihir will cut the 500-strong Ballarat workforce by about 200 and will cut back on ore production and processing.

Chief executive Arthur Hood said streamlining was in response to mixed results from mining the field's southern and central zones. "While the gold is there, we have found it is really not of a size that is amenable to large productive bulk mining techniques," Mr Hood said.

This meant Lihir was not getting the revenue it expected from the mine and had to take action to reduce the operating losses it was experiencing at the mine, he said.

It would now focus its efforts on developing the northern zone, and was scaling back ore production and processing while this took place, moving to an owner-operator model and ceasing contract mining.

Note: Zircons are commercially mined for the metal zirconium, used in nuclear reactors due to its neutron absorption properties. The main uses for rutile are the manufacture of refractory ceramic, as a pigment, or for the production of titanium metal...

Australia's Iluka cuts zircon, rutile sales forecasts


6 April 2009

SYDNEY -Iluka Resources Ltd, the world's No. 1 zircon producer, has chopped its sales forecasts for calendar 2009 by up to 20 percent in response to falling demand as the global economy slows.

The Australian miner said on Tuesday it would cut production rather than reduce prices as it did not expect lower prices to improve demand. Its shares fell as much as 11 percent following the news.

Iluka said zircon sales were now seen at about 350,000 tonnes in calendar 2009, down 20 percent from a February forecast, while rutile sales would also fall by up to 20 percent to about 260,000 tonnes.

Rutile is a whitener used in paints, plastics, paper and other products while zircon is used as an abrasive as well as for its heat and corrosive resistant qualities. Sales of synthetic rutile were expected to be up to 10 percent lower than the 450,000 tonnes flagged last month when Iluka said it would cut output by 5 percent.

Iluka said total first-quarter sales volume had been below expectations at 190,000 tonnes. "It is now clear that demand recovery is taking longer than both Iluka and some of its key customers expected," said Iluka Chief Executive David Robb in a statement.

He said the prudent course of action was to reduce production to match lower demand, a move that would cost up to 135 jobs. Robb saidmarket indications suggested inventories had now been substantially drawn down and that customer orders for mineral sands products and zircon in particular would recover over the remainder of 2009.

Iluka shares last traded down 8.1 percent at A$3.52. (Reporting by Bruce Hextall; Editing by James Thornhill)

Massey Energy Idles Black Castle Mine, 300 Affected


10 April 2009

MADISON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The same day Massey energy released plans to cut its workforce, employee pay and benefits, the company idled the Black Castle Mine in Boone County.

Massey Spokesperson Jeff Gillenwater tells the mine went on "idle status" Thursday night as a result of market conditions.

A skeleton crew is currently keeping the mine going. Gillenwater says the temporary shutdown affects 300 people.

Massey Energy Executives plan to take a look at the overall mine plan next week. The goal is to continue to bring small groups of workers back as demand increases.

Mexico miners block port to support ongoing strike


13 April 2009

MEXICO CITY - Mexican miners and metals workers are blocking the Lazaro Cardenas shipping port on Mexico's western coast in support of a nearly two-year-long strike at one of the country's largest copper mines.

Unionized workers from Michoacan state began blocking shipments at the port on Monday and will continue the protest until there is a resolution to the long-running labor dispute at the Cananea copper mine, which is near the U.S. Mexico border, the union said in a press release.

The workers will continue to show up at their jobs at mines and metals processing plants in Michoacan but will take turns setting up a blockade at the port, which imports and exports industrial and agricultural products, a union official told Reuters.

The port authorities were not immediately available to comment on how the blockade could affect operations.

Miners at the Cananea, owned by Grupo Mexico, laid down tools in July 2007 in a dispute over health and safety which has been complicated by a feud between the company and the union's leaders.

Grupo Mexico has said it would have to shut down the giant copper pit and fire workers due to damage to the machinery done by the prolonged stoppage at Cananea. That decision has angered the union, which counts among its members thousands of workers around the country. Workers hope to put pressure on the government to resolve the Cananea dispute with the port blockade, the union official said.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

Pamodzi miners to stage mass protest over jobs


7 April 2009

JOHANNESBURG - South African miners' unions said on Tuesday that some 3,000 workers would demonstrate at junior gold miner Pamodzi Gold Ltd. (PZGJ.J) on Wednesday to protest against non-payment of salaries and possible job losses.

Cash-strapped Pamodzi has already asked court-appointed judicial managers to take over one of its mines, after struggling to pay its workers and creditors.

Unions fear its operations may go under and jobs would likely be lost at the firm, which employs 15,000 workers. "The non-payment of salaries and the possible job losses facing employees do not only spell a crisis, but the situation is heading for disaster," Dirk Hermann, Solidarity's deputy general secretary said in a statement.

Hermann said members of Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) would take part in the protest. In its last results for June last year Pamodzi had a creditors' book of more than 700 million rand ($77.83 million).

The company said last month that it would not release its financial results for last year due to the uncertainty caused by the liquidation application at the Orkney operations.

This followed a request by Pamodzi asking the Johannesburg Securities Exchange to suspend trading of its shares.

The company's three mines -- Orkney, which has been placed under judicial management, President Steyn, and Grootvlei -- have creditors demanding money and liquidation of the operations so that they can recoup their cash.

The world's No. 3 gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti, is one of Orkney's biggest creditors.

Harmony Gold Mining Co., the world's fifth biggest gold producer, owns about 32 percent of Pamodzi and has had to write off huge sums as losses owing to the junior miner's woes.

Since a year ago, Pamodzi has been trying to raise about 400 million rand it says it requires to recapitalise its mines and boost the group's output to 400,000 ounces from its last reported production of 56,385 ounces in the June, 2008 quarter. Its long-term goal is to become a million-ounce producer.

Various hurdles, including the global credit crunch, have stood in its way of raising funds, deepening the crisis at the firm.

Mineworkers' unions in South Africa are now worried over the likelihood of further job losses in the mining sector, which has already announced about 24,000 possible job cuts by various producers, mainly platinum miners, owing to the drop of metal prices in the wake of the global financial crisis. "More than 15,000 employees in the entire Pamodzi group are affected by the issue, which ultimately means that about 150,000 dependants will suffer because of this," Hermann said.

He said the unions will hand over a memorandum with various demands to the company's management.

(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

Glencore says work halted at its largest Peru mine


30 March 2009

LIMA - Glencore has suspended operations at Iscaycruz, its largest lead and zinc mine in Peru, because of plummeting global prices, a company official said on Monday. Besides Iscaycruz, the privately held Swiss commodities firm operates two other Peruvian mines -- Rosaura and Yauliyacu.

The company stopped work at Rosaura, the smallest of the three mines, late last year because of falling metals prices. Yauliyacu is functioning as normal.

"Since the first of March, operations at Iscaycruz have been suspended," Othmar Rabitsch told Reuters. "Current prices ... do not justify continuing operations."

Prices for zinc MZN3 are down some 40 percent from this time last year.

Zinc miners from Belgium to China are scaling back, and in some cases closing mines, to cope with commodity fallout from the global economic crisis. Iscaycruz, which last year produced 175,184 tonnes of zinc and 13,710 tonnes of lead, is responsible for roughly half of Glencore's total Peruvian production, Rabitsch said.

"We are hopeful international prices will improve and allow us to restart operations," he said. Glencore's mines account for some 14 percent of zinc output in Peru, which is the world's second-largest zinc producer.

(Reporting by Dana Ford; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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