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Huge job cuts at a Philippine copper mine

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A $5.9 billion GlencoreXstrata copper mine in the Philippines may lose nearly all of its workers after the mine continues to be deferred due to regulators.

Mining giant GlencoreXstrata said the Tampakan mine is slashing costs while it goes through “an extremely complex and uncertain pathway to ultimate project approval”.

“At present, the project faces substantial development challenges...no investment decision can be made until the current project challenges are resolved and necessary approvals obtained,” the company’s spokesman John Arnaldo from unit Sagittarius Mining said.

The company is laying off 300 standard and project employees and around 620 contract workers, Arnaldo said. There are 1060 workers in total, the AFP reported.

He said the company has revised its spending to $1 million a month, down from its initial 2013 intention of spending $4 million a month.

The mine stumbling blocks include a local government prohibition on open-cut mining, and the company also needs many government and community approvals.

The Tampakan project, located on the southern island of Mindanao, has faced opposition from all quarters including anti-mining protesters, tribal groups and church leaders.

The opposition has stopped the country from utilising its full mining potential.

The company hoped it could begin commercial production by 2019. It has already spent more than $500 million on Tampakan.

The mine faced delays last year after a freeze on mining deals and conflicting rules hindered it. Sagittarius said it was looking at starting construction on site by 2015, despite it being originally slated for 2016.

The project has the potential to be the country’s biggest foreign investment.

According to the Philippines government, the nation is resource-rich with at least $840 billion in gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore deposits.

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