Lisbon Valley mine shuts down, can’t pay employees

The Lisbon Valley Mining Company in San Juan County shut down operations and let go of about 140 employees after the COVID-19 virus helped derail an emergency loan needed to provide the struggling copper mine liquidity. Photo courtesy of Lisbon Valley Mining Company
The Lisbon Valley Mining Company in San Juan County shut down operations and let go of about 65 employees after the COVID-19 virus helped derail an emergency loan needed to provide the struggling copper mine liquidity. Photo courtesy of Lisbon Valley Mining Company

The global COVID-19 virus and a profound lack of cash on hand led to San Juan County’s Lisbon Valley Mining Company to furlough its roughly 65 employees on Wednesday, March 18 — and they won’t get their final paychecks until the company sells assets to fund them.

A letter Chair George Shaw and Director Ken Garnett sent to employees this week cited the worldwide health crisis, the coinciding sharp drop in the oil market and general economic downturn doomed an emergency bridge loan that was supposed to close Friday, March 13 “that would have resulted in substantial liquidity to the company.”

The lender backed out and executives could not find a lender willing to provide financing on such short notice, which gave them “no choice” but to immediately shut down operations.

The paychecks were supposed to be deposited today, March 20, but employees were told the company must first sell assets to cover payroll.

 “We are all disappointed with the state of the business, but certain events are out of our control,” said the company. “Please know, however, that we are diligently working to liquidate assets as quickly as possible and fund our payroll.”

Many of the employees have been with Lisbon Valley since it began operations 15 years ago.