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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Copper: Latest News: June 19th 2009


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:: Hudbay Expects to Close Flin Flon Copper Smelter by July 2010

HudBay Minerals Inc. expects to close its copper smelter in Flin Flon, Manitoba before July 1, 2010, and its copper refinery in White Pine, Michigan shortly thereafter.

The financial impact of the smelter closure on the company will be minimal, as the processing costs from the sale of concentrates are expected to be similar. Further, the smelter is part of an integrated complex, and reclamation costs, which have been fully accounted for on the company's balance sheet, only occur when the entire Flin Flon metallurgical complex ultimately shuts down. HudBay anticipates manpower reductions as a result of the closure to be approximately 225 in Flin Flon and 65 at the White Pine Copper Refinery.

"The Flin Flon copper smelter has been a great asset and one of the centerpieces of our operations for over 80 years," said Peter R. Jones, HudBay's chief executive officer. "Today's business realities, combined with the age of the plant and regulatory changes, make continued operation of this plant impractical and uneconomic. We are strongly positioned post-smelter closure with our metallurgical facilities, the 777 and Trout Lake mines, and an impressive project pipeline including Fenix and Lalor."

"We will work closely with our employees, unions, and affected local, provincial and state governments, as well as other stakeholders, to mitigate the impact of the closures," added Tom A. Goodman, senior vice president, operations. "After the closures, HudBay will remain a fully integrated zinc producer with its state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly zinc processing facilities in Flin Flon and Brampton."

Particulate and sulphur dioxide emissions to the atmosphere will be essentially eliminated from the Flin Flon operations once the smelter is closed, and the integrated metals facilities will be among the most environmentally friendly in North America in this regard. HudBay is building a filtration plant that will enable the company to ship its copper concentrate off-shore, if necessary. HudBay expects to have sales arrangements for its copper concentrate in place by the time the smelter closes.

The copper smelter processes copper concentrates into anodes, which are then sent by rail to White Pine, Michigan, where the anodes are refined into market standard copper cathodes. The smelter has an annual capacity of approximately 90,000 tonnes of copper anode. In 2008, HudBay produced approximately 82,458 tonnes of copper, of which 7,777 tonnes was produced from recycled White Pine spent anode. Approximately 32% of the concentrate treated at the copper smelter in 2008 was purchased concentrate.




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