Henderson Mine cuts another 50 jobs as moly drops in value
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
LEADVILLE, Colorado ” The Henderson Mine laid off 50 workers Thursday, the latest round of setbacks for parent company Freeport-McMoRan as global demand for molybdenum has slowed and metals prices have plummeted.
Some 40 workers were laid off at the mine, located near Berthoud Falls beneath Jones Pass and another 10 workers were cut from the mill on the Grand County side of Ute Pass, according to company spokesman Jim Telle.
In November, the company laid off 58 employees at the mine as part of the company’s plans to reduce production by 25 percent.
At the time, officials indicated they would cut about 100 full-time positions because of the soft market for molybdenum, known as “moly,” and the company’s plans to re-open the Climax Mine on Fremont Pass in Lake County were put on hold.
The moly-oxide price declined from about $30 per pound in October to $12 per pound in November, and it traded at $8.75 on Friday.
The Henderson Mine, which straddles the Grand-Clear Creek county line, is the world’s largest producer of molybdenum as its primary product.
The gray-white metal is used as a steel-hardening agent, in devices such as automobile airbags and as an industrial lubricant.
Moly is produced at 12 mines in the United States, including eight copper mines where it is a byproduct.
In operation since 1976, Henderson has produced more than 160 million tons of ore and 770 million pounds of molybdenum during the past 27 years.
The mine and mill are connected by the world’s longest conveyor of its kind, a 15-mile elevated belt that passes underneath the Continental Divide through an old train tunnel and then above ground to the mill.
About 550 people remain employed there.
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Recreation and travel in Glenwood Canyon will be much more hazardous due to the potential rockfall and debris flows originating from destabilized ground, rock and weakened trees burned by the Grizzly Creek Fire last summer.