Morenci facing ‘elimination of some positions’

MORENCI — While the workers at Freeport’s Safford mining operation appear to be relatively safe from cutbacks due to the pandemic and downward copper prices, those working at the Morenci mine don’t appear to be in the same situation.

In an e-mail to Gila Valley Central, Linda Hayes, director of Internal Communication for Freeport, said Morenci can expect to see a reduction in staffing.

“Morenci will be reducing mining and milling rates and implementing a new organizational structure during the next few weeks. The reorganization will include the elimination of some positions and a small number of furloughs,” Hayes said.

Hayes did not state when the position eliminations and furloughs would commence, nor the target number of positions to be eliminated.

In a press release April 24, Freeport announced it would continue to “complete initial phase of the Lone Star Copper Leach Project” in Safford, “with a remaining capital investment of about $100 million in 2020.”

Also on April 24, in a letter to community partners, Jeff Monteith, general manager for the Safford mining operation, said Safford “will not see any significant changes based on these revised operating plans. However, we will continue cost cutting and efficiency measures already in place.”

On April 15, Freeport’s Steve Higgins wrote to employees that Freeport worldwide was offering “an enhanced voluntary separation program to certain groups and individuals that will offer special severance benefits to employees who wish to voluntarily leave the company, whether for professional opportunities, retirement or other personal reasons.”

Higgins further said that the number of employees who opt for the early retirement program “will determine the extent to which involuntary separations will be required.”

Editor’s note: This story was edited at 3:59 p.m. April 27, 2020, to correct the spelling of Monteith.