May 08, 2008
Venezuelan workers have halted operations at the Isidora gold mine, run by a subsidiary of U.S. miner Hecla Mining, to demand President Hugo Chávez take over the unit, company officials said.
The stoppage follows a renewed wave of nationalizations this year affecting the cement and steel sectors, and comes just days after other companies said Venezuela denied exploration permits to two gold miners operating in the region.
Hecla, Venezuela's largest gold miner, said the mine represents a small portion of the company's portfolio. "We don't see it materially affecting operations," said Vicki Veltkamp, Hecla vice president for investor and public relations.
Hecla's La Camorra mill, which processes the raw material from its Venezuela mines, contributed 3 percent to the company's 2007 sales, she said.