Company suspends operations, leaves 45 without work

BUNKER HILL, COOS BAY, Ore.-- Mining and mineral company Oregon Resources Corporation announced Monday it is suspending operations for at least the next six months.

The move puts the company, already financially squeezed by a lack of global demand for its product (chromite), in the position of having to layoff more employees.

"We have suspended all mining operations immeadiately, and we will suspend other operations by next Tuesday," said ORC CEO Wayne Knott.

The move leaves 45 employees without work just weeks before Christmas. ORC laid off 31 employees last September.

The move comes just one week after the company signed a lease with Coos County over mining rights on land for minerals that belongs to neighboring company Kimberly-Clark. It was at that meeting, Knott told KCBY that the damage had already been done, but he and others are trying to minimize the impact.

"We're happy we have a lease," he said last week. "We can now show our investors that we have a way forward, but the damage has already been done, and this lease could have come too late if we can't bring our investors back."

Knott said years of legal wrangling with the county over mineral rights caused some investors to look elsewhere or delay their investments into ORC.

Knott will speak with KCBY Tuesday afternoon about the recent round of layoffs.

Coos County Commissioner Bob Main tells KCBY that he warned of the company's financial problems last week at the lease hearing, and is worried that if the company slips into bankruptcy, the Coos County lease will be in the hands of another company the county has not dealt with before.

ORC's parent company's stock has remained steady at three cents on the Australian Stock Exchange for the past several weeks.

This is a developing story and KCBY will update it as we get more information.