BGC forced to cut 150 jobs

BHP said mining would be wound down at the Rocky’s Reward open pit mine, part of the Leinster nickel operation, with the mine placed on care and maintenance. BGC chief executive officer John Dunkley told CIN’s sister publication MiningNews.net the cancellation of the contract was a “disaster” for his company, which would be forced to let go its staff at Rocky’s Reward. He said the workers were “very loyal and good working people” and BGC was forced to let the workers go because it did not have anywhere to redeploy them. BHP said yesterday it had taken the decision to close Rocky’s Reward as the mine was a “higher-cost operation because of its lower ore grade and high strip ratio”. “With the deterioration of the nickel price, this is a disciplined and necessary action to preserve long-term value,” the company added. BHP said it would be looking at internal redeployment opportunities for its employees, but the contractor positions were the responsibility of the contractors.Operations at the Leinster nickel underground mining operation and the processing plant “will continue to operate as normal”, the miner added. A BHP spokesperson told MNn the closure would have “minimal” impact on its Nickel West operation’s 2010 production forecast “due to the drawing down of concentrate stocks and economical sources of concentrate supply”.Nickel West – which includes the Mount Keith, Leinster, Rocky’s Reward and Cliffs operations – produced around 98,000 tonnes of nickel in the 2008 financial year. In an emailed statement yesterday, BHP said its operations were under constant review and the company would “adjust production if an operation is cash negative”.Dunkley told MNn the downturn was proving extremely difficult for contractors like BGC, with the nickel sector one of the hardest hit, and companies either cutting back or remaining in a holding pattern.“I don’t know of anyone who is expanding,” he said. The Rocky’s Reward closure follows on from BHP’s decision earlier this year to mothball its Ravensthorpe nickel laterite mine near Esperance and scale down work at the Mount Keith open pit – costing around 2100 direct jobs.

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