120 Layoffs Coming at Kennecott

120 Layoffs Coming at Kennecott

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Just days after Kennecott Utah Copper and its union workers settled on a new contract, the company has announced that 120 workers will lose their jobs.

Kennecott Utah Copper President Bill Champion said the market for copper is low, and the industry is struggling. The statement released on Thursday says the layoffs are necessary if the company is to have "a longer and more sustainable mining future."

The company said the layoffs had been anticipated before the contract settlement with the United Steelworkers of America. That six-year deal was ratified by union membership late Monday. It offers average wage increases of about $2.40 per hour during the contract period and maintains health benefits for retirees.

Champion said he told workers about the pending layoffs earlier this month. The individual workers to be laid off will get their notice Thursday or Friday. The company statement says the workers will be operations and maintenance employees.

The company said those workers will be paid through July 5th. Kennecott's work force will now be about 1,425.

The open-pit mine opened a century ago, has yielded 17 million tons of copper and is now about 21/2 miles across.

Kennecott Utah Copper is now a wholly owned subsidiary of mining conglomerate Rio Tinto of London and Melbourne, Australia, which employs about 60,000 workers globally.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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