BHP Billiton share price: Miner to cut jobs at Escondida

on Jan 28, 2016
Updated: Oct 21, 2019

BHP Billiton Plc (LON:BLT) announced on Wednesday that it is cutting 2.4 percent of the workforce at the Escondida copper project in Chile in response to the slumping copper price.

BHP is the operator and largest stakeholder in Escondida, with a holding of 57.5 percent, followed by fellow Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto with 30 percent, while two Japanese consortiums own the rest.
The mine produced 451,500 tonnes of copper in the half-year to December 31, 18 percent lower year-on-year as a 25-percent drop in grades offset a record volume of mined ore.
In the year to June 30, 2015, Escondida generated underlying earnings of $4.06bn, down from $4.75bn for 2014, primarily due to significantly lower commodity prices offsetting higher output.

“Escondida is putting in place a plan to reduce the number of employees by 2.4 percent, which is equivalent to around 90 roles,” a spokesman for BHP Billiton said on Wednesday. “That was in response to the continued deterioration of the copper market, which has seen prices drop more than 30 percent over the last 12 months.”
In response to the layoffs, workers have blocked the access road to Escondida, causing the mine to operate at only 50 percent capacity, Reuters reported.
“We’ve been blocking the access road since the early hours of the morning … at 3 p.m. (local time) we’re going to meet with company representatives,” said union head Patricio Tapia.
The BHP spokesperson would not comment on the actions taken by protesting workers.
BHP’s share price closed Wednesday’s session with a 0.6 percent gain to 669.90p. So far this year, the mining stock is about 12 percent in the red, as compared with a four-percent drop for the FTSE 100.
As of 07:50 GMT, Thursday, 28 January, BHP Billiton plc share price is 665.50p.