Freeport axes oil and gas workforce as it posts sixth straight loss

Freeport McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), the No. 1 listed copper miner, is cutting its oil and gas workforce by 25% as it struggles to reduce its over $20 billion debt.

The US miner loss in the first three months of the year — Freeport’s sixth straight quarterly loss — nearly doubled due to limited demand for some of its main commodities, including copper.

Freeport expects to post a charge of about $40 million related to the restructuring of its oil and gas unit.

The Phoenix-based company logged a net loss of $4.2 billion for the first quarter, or $3.35 per share, widening from a loss of almost $2.5 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue fell 15.1% to $3.53 billion, it said.

Freeport, which announced last year that it would either spin off or sell its oil and gas business, said it expected to take a $40 million charge in the second quarter related to job cuts and restructuring of the energy operations.

The company, which is the US biggest miner by market value, has been under pressure from weak commodity prices and activist investor Carl Icahn, who wants the company to lower costs and reduce as much as $20 billion in debt.

CEO Richard Adkerson said Freeport’s asset divestments have totalled $1.4 billion year-to-date.