SUPERIOR, Ariz., Oct. 14, 2013 –To upgrade ventilation and cooling of RCM shaft 10 and ensure the health and safety of employees and contractors, Resolution Copper Mining LLC (RCM) will place approximately 48 members of its contractor workforce on temporary leave while a construction and engineering solution is implemented and tested to increase cooling and ventilation to critical work areas within the shaft. The temporary reductions affect the project’s contractor workforce. A crew of about 34 contractors will remain for shaft upkeep and maintenance.
The company anticipates that some workers will be recalled before the end of the year. The remainder are projected to be recalled by mid-2014 when shaft sinking is expected to resume.
“Temperatures in the shaft are at about 116 degrees – too hot for comfort and safety – and humidity is at 100 percent. We are in the process of completing construction and engineering solutions to increase cooling and reduce temperatures that are acceptable and comfortable for our workforce,” said Andrew Taplin, project director. “While this change is difficult for everyone, safety is our first priority and organizational value.”
Taplin said the mine must ensure that contractors are safe and conditions are right before they return to work. The health and safety of Resolution Copper’s workforce is the absolute, top priority.
The shaft-sinking work is an essential aspect of the project. It is the only way to gather critical information needed for future mine designs. Since 2008, the company has been working with contractor Cementation to sink the #10 shaft to a depth of 6,943 feet below ground level. The current shaft bottom is at 6,630 feet.
“Resolution Copper is one of the most attractive, undeveloped copper deposits in the world. It is absolutely world class. It will bring benefits locally, regionally and to the state of Arizona, and we are committed to seeing it through,” Taplin said. “We have invested more than $1 billion to date in the project. Most of that investment has been used to sink the exploratory shaft to full depth. Our contractor workforce has been working extremely hard to accomplish that goal, and nothing is more important than their health and safety. It is our primary focus, and we will not compromise or make exceptions in this area. When we have fully implemented and tested the construction and engineering changes to the cooling system, all our contractors will be called back to work, and the shaft-sinking work will resume.”
About Resolution Copper
Resolution Copper Mining LLC is a limited liability company whose members are a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto plc – the managing member – and a subsidiary of Australia-based BHP Billiton. The company seeks to develop one of the largest undeveloped copper resources in the world near Superior, Ariz. The project is currently in the pre-feasibility phase and production is not anticipated until the mid-2020s. The project will mine ore using underground block-caving methods at depths of nearly 7,000 feet below surface. When in full production, the mine will employ 1,400 workers directly and generate an additional 2,300 indirect and induced jobs. The mine will be North America’s largest copper producer when in full production, capable of producing more than 25 percent of the nation’s demand based on today’s usage.