These are tough times for miners. The effects are being felt on many fronts. Commodity prices are softening for metals, coal, potash and more. Junior miners have been having an increasingly difficult time raising exploration money. And now layoffs are being announced at large producers.
Among Canadian companies, Barrick Gold is one of the first to announce cuts. First came the forced suspension of work on the Chilean side of the Pascua Lama development, followed by shrinking of the construction workforce. Then the company announced cuts at its mines in Western Australia. At the beginning of the week, it said it must ask 55 workers in Utah and Nevada to leave in return for severance packages. Now comes word that Barrick is cutting 100 jobs, or a third of its employees at its Toronto head office. The total count so far is only a tiny fraction of the company’s 25,000 workers around the globe.
Similar news from other miners is already showing up with some regularity in my inbox. Glencore Xstrata recently axed 46 workers at its Revensworth coal mine in Australia. Peabody Energy is slashing more than 400 contractor positions at its Australian coal mines.
News of these recent job losses is probably the leading edge of a trend that will affect many more mines before it subsides.