Rio Tinto Kennecott Laying Off Hundreds, Cutting Utah Workforce By 10 Percent

Rio Tinto Kennecott
Photo Courtesy: Rio Tinto Kennecott

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 3, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Rio Tinto Kennecott is laying off 200 employees, about 10 percent of its Utah workforce, due to falling prices for metals like copper.

Spokesman Kyle Bennett said the company has been particularly challenged “by a slowing of growth in emerging markets for copper like India and China.”

“The reductions will impact all areas of the business including salaried and non-salaried employees,” Bennett said.

A statement from Rio Tinto Kennecott said the company is committed to helping those laid off weather the transition with severance packages and employee assistance.

“We know these decisions have personal consequences for the people involved and their families,” said Nigel Steward, managing director of the company in an interview with Gephardt Daily.

After the layoffs, the company will continue to employ about 1,620 people statewide.

Bennett said the company has already taken a number of steps to reduce costs, including a salary freeze that went into effect in January and inventory reductions. For now, he said, “Our focus has to be on safety, productivity, and investment in the future.”

Bennett said he believes the company “is well positioned on the copper cost curve for the future.” He added that the “fundamentals of our business are solid,” and the longterm outlook for metals is strong.

Rio Tinto Kennecott is one of the largest copper producers in the United States according to its website. The Bingham Canyon Mine in South Jordan is considered one of the top producing copper mines in the world with production of more than 19 million tons. In addition to copper, Rio Tinto Kennecott produces precious metals, molybdenum, and sulfuric acid.


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