About 2,000 workers at Rio Tinto Group’s $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia have been laid off, Bloomberg TV Mongolia reported today.
BTV Mongolia cited one of the laid off workers and a letter from Redpath Mongolia LLC, a contractor that employs workers at the copper and gold mine owned jointly by Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government. The letter confirmed the layoffs without specifying the number, BTV Mongolia reported.
The employees of Redpath Mongolia, which is building the underground portion of the mine, were handed termination notices that cited a decision by Oyu Tolgoi LLC’s board of directors. BTV Mongolia obtained a copy of the letter.
The decision to lay off the workers comes after months of disagreement between the government and Rio over how to share revenue from the mine. Concerns over the project’s fate have already hurt the Mongolian economy, with foreign direct investment plunging 43 percent this year.
The Redpath employee said the number of workers laid off was announced at a company briefing on Aug. 12, BTV Mongolia reported. The letter gave workers 45 days notice.
Rio controls Oyu Tolgoi through its Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) unit, which owns 66 percent of the mine. The government of Mongolia holds 34 percent. On Aug. 12, Turquoise Hill said funding and development of the mine’s underground expansion would be delayed until “matters can be resolved with the Mongolian government and a new timetable has been agreed.”
Bloomberg TV Mongolia is a joint venture between Bloomberg Television and Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia.
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