Bringing the Economy Home

Updated: Idaho Molybdenum Mine Announces 100 Layoffs

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A view of the Thompson Creek mine near Challis, Idaho. Thompson Creek has been Custer County's largest employer.

The Thompson Creek molybdenum mine issued 105 layoff notices today according to the Idaho Business Review. 

Molybdenum is a metal with a high melting point used in steel alloys, among other things.

The central Idaho mine is operated by a company based in Denver and Vancouver, B.C.  The Business Review reports the company estimates it will save nearly $110 million in operating costs and expenditures through the job cuts.

The layoffs are effective Oct. 5.

Last year, CEO of Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc. Kevin Loughrey, spoke with Bloomberg Television’s Pimm Fox when the price of molybdenum was $17 per pound.

Today, according to the commodity website, molybdenum is priced at $10.89 per pound.

Loughrey said a year ago, “We believe there is real opportunity as demand picks up for the moly price to go up over time.”  He said the metal peaked at more than $35 per pound before the recession.

Speaking about Idaho’s Thompson Creek mine, Loughrey called it a “very good operation”.   “We have a long history of being able to operate at very reasonable costs through both low and high periods in the economic cycle,” he said.

Today’s announcement paints a different picture.  Here’s more from IBR:

Thompson Creek will suspend stripping activity associated with the next phase of production at its open pit mine in Idaho. Mining will continue as planned through 2014 in the phase that’s underway now, Thompson Creek officials said.

“As a result of continuing weakness and uncertainty in the world economy, we have decided to reduce our costs, strengthen our balance sheet and conserve cash,” said Kevin Loughrey, the chairman and CEO of the company, in prepared remarks Oct. 3. “This will allow for greater certainty in accessing our existing financings in order to complete the development of Mount Milligan, while we preserve the assets at Thompson Creek until market conditions strengthen.” – Idaho Business Review

The Business Review reports many of the mine workers live in the Challis, Idaho area.

Before today’s layoff announcement, the Thompson Creek mine had between 300-400 employees and was Custer County’s top employer.

Thompson Creek Metals spokesperson Pamela Solly told the Business Review the company won’t have an exact count on the number of jobs lost until the end of the week.  She said the company has also asked workers to volunteer for early retirement.


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