Charging Ahead: Responsibly? Reliably? Relentlessly?
A Flip of the Underground Coin
Working in an underground mine requires a great deal of trust. It’s a dangerous industry, even with advanced technology and safety measures in place.
One of the #oldschool procedures from the Climax Mine’s 1970s operations described a token system whereby each crewmember had a designated coin stamped with a specific number that would account for their whereabouts in the underground maze. At the end of the shift, if one of those gold coins was still hanging on the pegboard, the crew knew they were a man-down. No one would be leaving until their buddy was found, and brought safely back to the surface where that miner would then put his personally-designated token back into his pocket and return home for the night, back to his family.
Some families still remember their father’s “number,” and from time-to-time pictures of the peg-punched circles will get posted on social media. These coins represented trust between the crews and the company, a token sign that people were looking out for one another, and their families.
That same level of trust is still relevant today, albeit with different procedures and messaging in place for 21st-century mining. Employees still want responsible work environments that can bring them safely back to their families every night. They also want top-level management to provide accurate information, especially in these COVID-19 times. Therefore, this week when a crossroad of conflicting narratives presented itself, it seemed the right time to put things on-the-record with a commitment to follow the story throughout 2021.
The Corporate Message
In a press release that sounded more race-cheer than corporate-reporting, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) announced its fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday, Jan. 26 with a hope-filled: “Charging Ahead: Responsibly. Reliably. Relentlessly,” message to its stockholders and investors. According to the document, Freeport reported net income attributable to common stock of $708 million, $0.48 per share, in fourth-quarter 2020 and $599 million, $0.41 per share, for the year 2020.
For months international mining giant has been leading the financial market news headlines with record profits and high-yield, historic returns for investors.
“During 2020, our global team responded to the challenges of the pandemic in an exceptional fashion, safeguarding our people, communities, and assets as we executed and delivered on our clearly defined strategy,” stated Richard C. Adkerson, FCX’s President and Chief Executive Officer. For readers who may not know, one of Freeport’s many international holdings is The Climax Mine located in Lake County.
“Together we achieved strong operating performance and project execution, establishing a solid foundation for future growth in sales volumes and cash flows,” he reported.
Closer to home, FCX’s molybdenum-producing holding, The Climax Mine’s employees have experienced a less-rosy picture during the pandemic. Back in April 2020, LT reported that Climax had revised their operating plan prompted by their first-quarter 2020 financial results, and that “Climax Mine employees were being switched to a 7-days-on-7-days-off work schedule, ultimately cutting their hours.”
Additionally, there seems to be a gap between the narrative of FCX investor’s report on molybdenum and what is being reported on-the-ground locally. Most recently by Climax representative P. Michael Rodriquez at yesterday’s Lake County Office of Emergency Management’s regular meeting. According to the official minutes, the mine is “still operating with decreased personnel,” and they “have been asked to increase production.”
Right Hand, Meet Left Hand
More specifically, the local narrative does not appear to match up with the official sucess story released by the mining giant to stockholders and investors just two days before. In that analysis, while FCX’s 2020 earnings’ success was strongly led by their copper and gold holdings, it’s worth noting that the report also put on-the-record, the following: “Fourth-quarter 2020 molybdenum sales of 21 million pounds were in line with both the October 2020 estimate and fourth-quarter 2019 sales of 22 million pounds.” If that’s truly the case, then why the earlier reported operational revision which clearly led to more work for less staff.
With a relatively stringent no-media contact policy in place for the company which employs 440 people at its Lake County operations, most workers are hesitant to go on-the-record, however, the local chatter continues to express frustration with the conflict in reports and ongoing management concerns.
As for Freeport-McMoRan, Adkerson tows the company line, concluding, “We are enthusiastic about the future prospects for our business based on the positive outlook for the markets we serve, our long-lived and high-quality copper assets, our seasoned and highly motivated global organization and the critical role of copper to the technologies necessary to deliver clean energy and support the global transition to a low-carbon economy.”
For now, Climax Mine workers can only hope that the CEO’s message is more “golden” than “moly.” Stay tuned for this story as it continues to play out in 2021. The LT newsroom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of The Climax Mine
Did you know at one point The Climax Mine was almost handed over to Summit County? Can you imagine what a game-changer that would have been for Leadville and Lake County? Discover that #cautionarytale and other fascinating stories in this video from Leadville historian Howard Tritz as he recounts the history of the Climax Mine. For readers who may not know, one of Freeport’s many international holdings is The Climax Mine located in Lake County, north of the city of Leadville.
Help for Small Business Owners
In other business news, the Small Business Development Center – Colorado (SBDC) has put together one of the most straightforward, helpful series of online resources for anyone starting or operating a business. If you have found yourself saying: “I need help with my website! How do I market my business better? I need to get my books under control, or should I start a non-profit?” then check out the links and details below.
These new – and mostly FREE – workshops are designed to help you start, run & scale your business! As an entrepreneur or small business owner, there’s always something more to learn. Whether it’s new marketing, branding, product development, e-commerce approaches or cash flow and financial planning, developing your skills is essential to improving your business. Plus these interactive workshops help you meet like-minded small businesses and hear their methodologies and inspirations.
Finance Fridays Meetup
- Jan 29th at 2:30 p.m. – Held the Last Friday of Each Month. It’s always a great time to start setting good habits! Pick up tips, tricks, and resources. Each month will feature a specific topic to help you manage the money side of your business and put more money in your pocket. Register free
- Addtional sessions: Feb 26, March 26, April 30 & more!
Marketing Mondays Meetup
- Starting Feb 1st at noon – Held the First Monday of Each Month. Learn tips and tricks attract your ideal client, connect with your community, and leave a lasting mark on your respective industry. Learn to engage customers and turn them into raving fans! Register free
- Addtional sessions: March 1, April 5, May 3 & more!
To Be or Not to Be a Nonprofit: Seven questions to consider before starting a 501(c)(3)
- Feb 3 at noon – Are you considering starting a nonprofit, but don’t know where to begin? If only there was a “Shark Tank” for nonprofits to pitch your ideas to potential investors. Then you could get funding and launch your idea to change the world. In this virtual presentation you’ll learn what you need to know to take the next step towards either forming a nonprofit or not. This is a FOUR part series running from Feb 3rd to May 5th. Register $15.00
Foodie Friday – Cottage Foods
- Feb 5 at 9 a.m. – Know the state and county laws, rules, and regulations that govern the Colorado food industry before you dive in! This month – Cottage Foods! Join us for insights and dos and don’ts around Colorado Cottage Food requirements. Register free
- Addtional sessions: March 5, April 2, May 7 & more!
Freshen up your Website: 7 Steps in 7 Days
- Feb 8 at 10 a.m. – If it’s been over 15 months since you updated your website, it’s probably out of date! Your website is the first place customers go to research your company so it’s critical you make a great first impression. We give you 7 practical assignments to improve your website and be poised for sales in 2021. Register free
The KNOW – LIKE – TRUST Concept: Understanding & Why it Matters to Increase Sales
- Feb 22 at 10 a.m. – Every customer journey moves through a spectrum of trust-building steps until they buy from you and/or continue to buy from you. In this session, we will identify your customer avatar and then review the – Know – Like – Trust concept and give you action items to fortify and/or adjust your marketing program at each stage moving forward. Register free
- March 15 at 10 a.m. – Your website is more than a digital business card. It’s important to understand how to set your website up correctly and to make it an effective interactive marketing tool. In this session, we’ll cover hosting, templates and e-commerce considerations. We’ll teach you how to create great content to maximize google rankings and how to generate traffic through social media channels. Register free
Maximizing Google Rankings for Your Small Business or Service
- April 26 at 10 a.m. – Your web presence is constantly being evaluated using a specific set of Google metrics. How well you score determines your ranking, and prominence in search results. In this session, we’ll cover Google Core Web Vitals, decode the jargon and give you practical tips to improve your rankings. Register free
View More SBDC Workshop Topics
MORE Videos – From the Archives
Headwaters of the Arkansas River – Channel Restoration
This video contains part of a tour that was conducted in August 2012 as part of the mine’s Grand Re-Opening. In this video, Climax’s then-Environmental Manager Ray Lazuk discusses the Channel Restoration in the Headwaters of the Arkansas River. This project has restored the area which is no longer needed for mining.
Open Pit Mining Operation at The Climax Mine
This video contains part of a tour that was conducted in August 2012 as part of the mine’s Grand Re-Opening. In this video, Climax Mine Operations Superintendent Roy McKinstry discusses the present-day open-pit operations. Note: some of you former Climax miners will enjoy the points of reference to the former underground operations back in the 1970s.