Rio’s Hope Downs to halt operations over Christmas

Workers at Rio Tinto’s Hope Downs 4 mine will be sent home during Christmas as part of the company’s efforts to cut operating costs.

Around 440 workers were informed of a two-week shutdown at the end of the year and instructed to take annual leave, The West Australian reports.

It is understood to be the first time Rio has halted operations since the global financial crisis.

In a message to staff, Hope Downs general manager Jim Copper said it would allow employees “the opportunity to take leave over Christmas and also allows us to reduce operating costs and maximise cash to strengthen the business”.

A Rio spokesperson further confirmed the cost cutting plan, saying, “We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to reduce costs.”

“We expect 2017 to be a very tough year and must ensure our business is match-fit for the challenging times ahead.”

Workers without enough leave will be allowed to take leave in advance or take unpaid leave.

A skeleton crew will lead stock from the reduced number of trains during that period.

This comes amid Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ ongoing push for an increased iron ore mining tax, which could cost more than 7000 jobs. Grylls, however, denies the claims.

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