May 22, 2007 in Business

Protests seek more hiring at Hecla mine

The Spokesman-Review
 

A group of community residents has blocked access to a mine here operated by Hecla Mining Co.

The protesters want Hecla to boost hiring at the Mina Isadora gold mine, according to Hecla officials. The mine is located in a rural area with high unemployment.

Hecla has halted production at the Mina Isadora while it works to resolve the protest peacefully, said Mike Callahan, Hecla’s vice president of Venezuelan operations. The halt in work time could reduce the company’s gold production by 10 percent this year, he said.

Mina Isadora already employs 325 workers, which makes it one of the region’s largest employers, according to Callahan. He said Hecla is also working with government officials to provide other types of sustainable development.

Road blockades are a common tactic for individuals in areas of high unemployment, Callahan said.

Hecla’s La Camorra Mine in Venezuela continues to operate, along with the company’s milling operation, according to officials.

San Francisco

New IBM chip is fastest out there

International Business Machines Corp. on Monday laid claim to the title of maker of the world’s fastest microprocessor, talking up a new chip aimed at the corporate server market that Big Blue said is twice as fast as its previous high-speed chip offering.

IBM said the new chip, called the Power6, runs at a speed of up to 4.7 gigahertz, two times the speed of its previous Power5 processor, and will be included in its new Systems p570 server. The new server will be capable of running up to eight of the dual-core processors, and IBM claims that servers running the new chips can cut their power consumption in half.

The Power6 will also soon be available across IBM’s p-series and i-series server lines. IBM said the new servers are aimed at what the company called “less-efficient servers” from Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Dell Inc.

As part of its touting of the new chip, IBM said the Power6 is so fast that it can download Apple Inc.’s entire iTunes library – which currently boasts more than 5 million songs, episodes from 350 TV show series and more than 400 movies – in one minute.

New Haven, Conn.

GE announces plan to sell plastics division

General Electric Co. said Monday it will sell its plastics division for about $11.6 billion in the latest move to reshape one of the world’s largest companies.

GE said it would use the proceeds from the sale to petrochemicals manufacturer Saudi Basic Industries Corp. primarily to increase its planned 2007 stock buyback program. It now expects to buy back $7 billion to $8 billion in stock, up from the previous plan of $6 billion.

The deal is expected to create a net gain, after taxes, of $1.5 billion for the conglomerate.

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