BHP firing 6% of workforce in Chile’s Pampa Norte division

BHP firing 6% of workforce in Chile’s Pampa Norte division

Escondida mine, the world's largest copper operation.

Mining giant BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) is firing around 6% of its workers at Chile’s Pampa Norte division, which encompasses the Spence and Cerro Colorado copper mines, citing rising costs and lower ore grades.

"This decision affects, to varying degrees, workers at the administrative office in Iquique and the Spence and Cerro Colorado operations, located in the Antofagasta and Tarapaca regions, respectively," the company said in a statement quoted by El Diario (in Spanish)

BHP, which also controls Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, had a total of 2,418 workers at Pampa Norte as of December 2013.

The division reported a 3.2% production increase to 66,800t in the fourth fiscal quarter, while production for the full fiscal year was 233,100t, in line with the 232,600t logged the previous year.

BHP is scheduled to release full-year earnings on August 19.