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Plans announced to close Sierrita Mine

Posted at 10:03 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 00:03:26-05

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Freeport-McMoRan has announced plans to shutdown operations of the Sierrita Mine near Green Valley.

In October, Freeport announced a 50 percent reduction in staff, which is about 580 employees. That reduction will take effect in January. The mine is a source of raw copper and other metals like molybdenum, which is used in stainless steel products. The company says falling demand for those metals led to the initial layoffs.

Today's announcement means that six months from now about 450 employees will be let go.

Eric Kinneberg, Director of External Communications says that before implementing the reduction of workforce, the company will design a system to effectively manage the water to control the downgradient from the Sierrita tailings.

While the mine will move to care and maintenance mode, operations of leaching and packaging facilities along with residual copper leaching and cathode production will continue, said Kinneberg.

About 250 employees will remain at the site to run operations once the shut down has taken place.
 
Duane Blumberg, the mayor of Sahuarita, said in an email that the closure will have a significant impact on the community. Blumberg believes that maybe a third of the mine employees live in or close by Sahuarita. The town will continue to work with county and state agencies to provide assistance to the workers.
 
According to the Freeport website, it first worked as an underground mine in 1907. In 2014 the mine generated an estimated $255.0 million in economic benefits for Pima County.