Tools Down at Spence: Workers Strike at BHP Copper Mine

Spence is one of two mines that are part of the company’s Pampa Norte complex in the Atacama desert in Chile.

Editors note: The Spence mine is operational again as of Thursday November 29.

BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) has a strike on its hands — though not at Escondida — with workers at its Spence copper mine in Chile walking off the job in protest over layoffs conducted earlier this week.

The union leader at the mine, Ronald Salcedo, told Reuters that operations at the mine were completely shut down as of Wednesday (November 28).

Spence is one of two mines that are part of the Pampa Norte complex in the Atacama desert in Chile — though earlier this year BHP sold the second, smaller mine, Cerro Colorado to private equity manager EMR Capital for US$230 million. That deal is expected to close before the end of this year.

Salcedo said that workers at Spence were concerned about safety at the mine after 50 jobs were cut, including 8 supervisors.

“These layoffs are strange given that costs are under control at the mine and even more so given that the company is pushing the upgrade project, which should mean contracting more workers,” he said.

The upgrade project is a US$2.46-billion program designed to extend the mine’s life by “more than 50 years,” according to BHP’s release announcing it in 2017.

The project, called the Spencer Growth Option (SGO), will create up to 5,000 jobs during the construction phase, according to the company.

Nevertheless, BHP told Reuters in a statement this week that the layoffs were part of it “implementing an optimization plan,” but did not comment on the strike.

‘Strike’ and ‘BHP’ are two words that can shift the copper markets if they share a sentence, which the markets saw as the company avoided a strike at its much larger Escondida mine in August.

Spence helped drag down BHP’s copper guidance for 2018, according to the company’s September quarterly report, with the mine’s projections falling from 185,000-200,000 tonnes to 160,000-175,000 tonnes due to planned maintenance and a fire. During the quarter, Spence produced 43,000 tonnes of copper.

In the quarterly report, BHP had said the SGO was on schedule and on budget, and was sitting at 23 percent completion as of September 30.

On the ASX, BHP was down a tiny 0.84 percent on Wednesday by market close in Sydney, trading at AU$30.61.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Graphite Metallurgical Test Work Update


  • Bulk sample of Springdale graphite concentrate estimated to be completed in Q2 2021.
  • Concentrate material will then be sent to Germany to test its amenability for the production of battery anode material suitable for use in EVs.
  • Final test results expected in Q3 2021.

Comet Resources Ltd (ASX:CRL) is pleased provide an update on ongoing test work on natural flake graphite from its Springdale Graphite Project (Springdale) located in Western Australia. Both excellent grade and recoveries were achieved on initial tests, leading to commencement of work to produce a bulk sample for further testing. Importantly, the graphite concentrates previously produced demonstrated a unique and potentially very valuable characteristic in its small size distribution, with two-thirds of the product passing the 38 µm size fraction screen. Generally, this small size fraction of graphite is a by-product of processing of larger flake fractions, which produces smaller size graphite, but in doing so also damages the smaller flake material in the process, reducing their performance and value. Deposits that contain high quality ultra-fine graphite are uncommon and are potentially suitable for supplying the expanding battery anode market, which continues to grow as the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increase. Graphite suitable for battery anode production also achieves premium pricing in graphite markets, making it a highly sought-after product.

Keep reading... Show less

Medallion Completes Diagnostic Testing with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization

Medallion Resources Ltd. (TSX-V: MDL; OTCQB: MLLOF; Frankfurt: MRDN) “Medallion” or the “Company”) announces completion of a suite of diagnostic test work at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) in Sydney, to extract rare earth elements (REE) from mineral sand monazite. The monazite was sourced from an Australian mineral sand mine. Discussion is ongoing with additional prospective suppliers.

Mineral sand monazite is an abundant REE-rich feedstock, that can be accessed as a by-product from global mineral-sand mines that target zirconium and titanium, without the need for additional mining. Medallion’s business model is centered on the Medallion Monazite Process , a transferable and scalable technology designed to accept multiple mineral-sand monazite feedstocks and extract high-value REEs with high efficiency, high recovery and zero liquid waste.

Keep reading... Show less

Galaxy Resources Limited Announcement

Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) ( Company ) advises that the following announcements have been made to the Australian Securities Exchange which appears on the Company’s platform (ASX):

  • Corporate Presentation – Sal de Vida Development Plan
  • Sal de Vida development Plan
  • Sal de Vida Resource & Reserve Update
  • March 2021 Quarterly Results Conference Call
  • Notice of Annual General Meeting/ Proxy Form
  • 2020 Annual Report
  • 2020 Sustainability Report
  • 2020 Corporate Governance Statement
  • Appendix 4G

The announcement can be viewed at:

Keep reading... Show less

Torian Resources Limited Significant Gold Results from Surface at Mt Stirling

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Torian Resources Ltd (ASX:TNR) is pleased to advise that recent drilling results continue to extend the Mt Stirling Gold System over ~1.1km of Strike, ~300m at depth, and it remains open in multiple directions.


– The interpreted strike of the Mt Stirling gold system exceeds 1.160km with Mt Stirling Main Zone; Hanging Wall and Viserion lodes all remaining open along strike and down-dip.

Keep reading... Show less

eMetals Limited Updates Shareholders On Exploration – April 12, 2021

eMetals Limited (ASX:EMT) (eMetals or Company) is pleased to update shareholders on exploration activities which have commenced across the Company’s projects.


Keep reading... Show less

Top News

Related News