SMM11 29-BHP Billiton said its Spence copper mine in the early Wednesday announced after the trade union strike again normal operation. Ronald Salcedo, the union president, said on Wednesday that in addition to the eight supervisors, about 50 workers had been fired, causing unease among the remaining workers at the mine and prompting them to strike. BHP later confirmed in a statement that it had laid off 57 workers, including mine operators, regulators and maintenance workers, but said the mine was operating properly again.
BHP said the layoffs were the result of a review of "considerations for the safe and sustainable operation of its operations, processes and resources". BHP Billiton has said it will spend nearly $2.5 billion to extend the life of the pence deposit by more than 50 years, creating as many as 5000 jobs and refurbishing capacity by 2021.
But union president Salcedo told local B í oB í o radio station, "these layoffs are strange because the cost of the mine is under control and the profit is normal, because the company is pushing for an upgrade project, and it is common sense that the company should employ more workers."
The expansion of the Spence copper mine aims to build a concentrator and a desalination plant at Mejillones Port, about 60 km north of Antofagasta, which will be built and operated by third parties. BHP Billiton has pledged a 20-year lease worth $1.43 billion.
According to CEO Andrew Mackenzie, it is estimated that the Spence project will create 5000 jobs during the construction phase.
BHP Billiton, already the world's second-largest listed copper miner, has taken steps to increase its influence in the market. While approving Spence's expansion, the company last year raised its annual exploration spending by 29 per cent, devoting almost all of its $900m budget to finding new copper resources.
(note: if copyright issues are involved, please contact SMM and we will deal with "View the original text" in a timely manner)