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TROY - Employees at Revett Minerals' copper and silver operation here are not expected to be laid off next month as they had been warned, thanks to an upswing in metals prices, increased ore production and falling operational costs.

Carson Rife, Revett's vice president of operations, said Thursday the mine would "stay open as long as we can remain profitable."

The company issued a 60-day notice to all 185 employees at Troy Mine last month, warning that a full closure was expected by Feb. 12.

Rife now says the mine will operate at least through February, and it looks "fairly good" for March. He added that the company continues to operate "right at the margins" and would make decisions on a month-to-month basis.

Rife said that in the past few months workers have increased ore production to 4,000 tons per day, up from the 3,000-ton average in recent years. He attributes the improvement to a series of training seminars focused on daily mine management.

Meanwhile, the price of diesel fuel is falling, as is the cost of steel used in grinding balls at the mill. Other raw materials have become cheaper and miners are squeezing more life out of each piece of equipment, Rife said.

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The mine also is saving money because of a voluntary 10 percent wage cut that was absorbed by workers in December. Corporate management accepted a 20 percent salary reduction at the same time.

"I can't say enough good things about the employees," Rife said.

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