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Community helping Sierrita Mine workers

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 23:53:05-05
SAHUARITA, Az (KGUN9-TV) -- After drastic layoffs were announced at the Sierrita Mine, Nine On Your Side has learned the mine is still winding down but not as fast as originally thought.
 
According to Freeport-McMoRan, the company that owns the copper mine, an improved market for molybendum means the mine will be operating longer. The company has not clarified when it will close so many mine employees aren't sure what's next. 
     
"It's obviously stressful," said Sahuarita Town Council member Kara Egbert. "They've known a couple of months now that it's coming, they don't know what the impact is going to be."
 
Egbert has been working with a few dozen local organizations to help families that may need assistance, including the Green Valley Community Food Bank. Executive Director Mary Jane Goodrick says it serves between 75 - 100 families a day, and they are prepared for even more. 
 
"As a community we really are trying to pull together more," Goodrick said. "So if they come to us and they need food but they don't have any money for their utility bill, we will be able to refer them to the agency that will help them."
 
Layoffs at the mine were announced last year. Freeport said about 1,000 employees would be out of work by July. While the mine is in Pima County, the layoffs impact hundreds of families in nearby Sahuarita and Green Valley. 
 
"I would hate for a family to be struggling with the what ifs," Egbert said. "And we want to help with the what ifs to say hey, it's OK. A lot of us have been there before. We know what it's like we'll help you get through it."
 
A Pima County One Stop Career Center is now open at the Sahuarita Town Hall, closer to the mine. Egbert hopes to develop an app that puts a directory for those types of resources in one place. She says it will be not just for the miners, but for the entire community. 
 
Freeport says about 140 Sierrita employees have transferred to other operations within the company or have pending offers. 
 
Egbert says she has heard some families have already left town, or are looking for jobs in nearby cities. 
 
On January 27th a job fair will be held specifically for the miners. Employers will be there including Tucson Police and Border Patrol.