Freeport suspends 1Q cash dividend

Contributed Photo. Freeport's Safford mining operation.

PHOENIX – In a conference call with investors, Freeport-McMoRan announced it was suspending the quarterly 5 cents per share cash dividend, originally scheduled for May 1.

Freeport officials also announced the mining giant was examining operations – including possibly reducing copper and molybdenum production in its Western Hemisphere operations – due to falling copper prices.

“The prudent steps we are taking to address costs and capital spending, and preserve a strong liquidity position, are necessary to maintain flexibility as we respond to current global economic uncertainties and the resulting sharp decline in copper prices in recent weeks,” said Richard C. Adkerson, Freeport president and CEO.

Another facet of operation that Freeport is reviewing is hiring, including whether to freeze the ongoing hiring of new personnel at both the Morenci and Safford mining operations.

“We are certainly looking at all options, and that is one of them,” Freeport spokesperson Linda Hayes told Gila Valley Central. “However, we still have critical positions that are open and we will still look to fill those.

Hayes said there is no timeline for the review, other than to have it complete “as soon as possible.”

According to NASDAQ, copper traded at $2.601 on March 2 and was at $2.233 at the close of trading April 2.

In November, Freeport announced the Safford mining operation employed about 1,200, and was seeking to hire another 150.

About 3,780 work at the Morenci mining operation.

The two mining operations produce an estimated economic impact of $499.6 million for Graham and Greenlee counties.