Thompson Creek Metals Company answered questions from investors today after announcing yesterday that it will suspend a planned phase of activity at its molybdenum mine in Custer County, resulting in job cuts.
The company expects to lay off 104 of its approximately 400 employees, CEO Kevin Loughrey said today. “They’re going to be primarily truck drivers and then some maintenance people who deal with those trucks,” he explained.
Molybdenum is used in alloying steel. Thompson Creek’s underlying problem is widespread economic weakness, which has driven down prices.
“In China, the rate of growth has slowed. In addition, Western Europe continues to be in a very difficult position, and we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel there in terms of the turnaround,” Loughrey said. “And finally the North American market, which has probably been better than those other two markets in terms of growth prospects, is also looking uncertain right now.”
Loughrey stressed the company is adjusting its plans according to current low prices and market conditions, not shutting down. He acknowledged, though, that suspending stripping activity at the mine now could affect productivity later on.
“If in between now and and the end of 2014, we have done no stripping, then we will not be in production. Because we can’t make up that kind of time,” he said.
Thompson Creek has been Custer County’s largest employer.