Freeport McMoRan

Some Freeport-McMoRan workers could see their furloughs extended up to six months, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday.

In April, Freeport announced it was revising its operating plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In making the announcement, the company said the global economy had prompted the company to devise a plan to “reduce capital spending, lower production levels, and lower operating administrative and exploration costs to preserve the company’s financial strength during this period of uncertainty.”

At that time company announced there would be some furloughs implemented at the Morenci operation, but said the Safford operation would not see any significant changes. One month later, furloughs were announced at the Safford mine.

In response to a Tuesday email about the status at Freeport, spokeswoman Linda Hayes released the following statement Wednesday: “We continue to implement our revised operating plans and evaluate the resulting organizational structure. While we address the evolving business environment, we have extended furlough periods from one month up to six months depending on employment status. Extending the furlough period allows furloughed employees to remain on unpaid leave of absence and continue their eligibility for most company benefits. Furloughed employees can apply for any of the more than 130 positions now open across the company.”

On Tuesday, Mike Kridel, Senior Vice President for the company’s Morenci operation told staff via email that “our furloughs are complete and our employees from the Mine and Morenci Mill have, or will be, transitioned into new roles this week. Many of these new rolls are replacing existing contractors. This allowed us to retain more of our employees and decrease our overall costs. The effected contractors have been notified and are in the process of reducing their staff.”

Kridel said a new mining rate of “700 ktpd” had been established and the Morenci Mill had been placed on “Care and Maintenance.”

He urged workers to “continue to follow all guidelines including our new face cover policy, which requires wearing a face cover when you are within six feet of another person.”

“The last few months have been extremely challenging,” Kridel said. “We had to make some very difficult decisions. I appreciate everyone’s efforts to retool our operating plans and work together to meet our new goals.”

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