PanAust cuts jobs in bid for increased efficiency

Around 182 jobs will soon be cut from the operations of copper/gold/silver miner PanAust, with more redundancies to come later in the year.

The company expects cutting jobs representing five per cent of the staff will result in an annual operating cost saving of $16.77 million.

PanAust expects other staff to leave as a result of natural attrition as their employment contracts expire.

The cuts come as the result of a recently implemented efficiency review, which the company said will be ongoing, to “streamline process and systems, and ensure the company in appropriately resourced for sustainable operations over the envisaged mine lives”.

Managing director Fred Hess said PanAust’s operations were well established and globally competitive, and that the company was in a stronger position to meet the challenges of weaker commodity prices.

“It is always a difficult decision to reduce staff numbers,” he said.

“These organisational changes are necessary to ensure our operations continue to remain competitive, and reflect the company’s priorities in 2015 of efficiency optimisation at existing operations and advancing the Frieda River Project towards a development decision.”

Hess was appointed managing director of PanAust in November 2014 with strong support from the company’s cornerstone shareholder Guangdong Rising Assets management.

PanAust has operations in Laos (Phu Kham copper-gold, Ban Houayxai gold-silver), Papua New Guinea (Freida), Thailand (Puthep), and Chile (Inca de Oro).

A feasibility study for the Frieda River Project will be completed in late 2015, with the project expected to sustain PanAustr’s copper business “well beyond the next decade”.

PanAust purchased their 80 per cent stake in Freida River from Glencore (then GlencoreXstrata) in a deal worth $75 million.

PanAust is due to pay the remainder of their debt ($50 million) to Glencore by December 2015.

Hess said the annual copper concentrate production at Phu Kham would increase by 30 per cent over the next few years with no further project capital required.

PanAust’s business improvement initiatives will be updated in the company’s December Quarter 2014 report, scheduled for release on 29 January.

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