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Silver City expo to help out-of-work mine workers

The main gate to the Chino Mine on April 11. (Geoffrey Plant/Silver City Daily Press)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A first-of-its kind expo in Silver City is designed to help mine employees left unemployed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Western New Mexico University and Chino Mine parent company Freeport-McMoRan are co-hosting the community’s first drive-through training expo from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The organizations are inviting mine employees and contractors to WNMU’S Silver City campus, where advisors will provide services and give personal consultations, according to a news release from WNMU. The university is waiving application fees for all expo attendees and expediting the admission application process during the event the release said.

“Western New Mexico University is proud to be a community partner in this event and honored to be equipping the people of southwest New Mexico with the skills and confidence to build stronger futures,” said James Ortiz, director of community and workforce development at WNMU, in a prepared statement.

Western New Mexico’s mining industry has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Chino Mine, which employed around 1,100 people at the start of the pandemic, suspended operations in April after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus affected about a dozen workers, according to the Silver City Daily Press.

In August, Freeport-McMoRan announced that it would be extending furloughs for around 825 workers through the end of 2020, and is expecting to eliminate around 40% of its workforce at Chino Mine.

The expo will help guide community members through the process of applying for Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act assistance and Trade Adjustment Assistance tuition funding while exploring their expanded training and higher education options, the release said.

Those interested in joining the additional WNMU Police Academy cohort by enrolling in the pre-academy session this October will be able to apply on-site too.

University staff members will provide one-on-one career services, share leadership development resources and provide academic advice, according to the release.

Trade Adjustment Assistance and Workforce Connection representatives will also be on hand to counsel attendees.

Masks are required at the event, and social distancing policies will be observed.

For more information, visit www.wnmu.edu/freeport-fair.

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