VANCOUVER -- Sirocco Mining Inc. (TSX:SIM) says it is temporarily suspending operations at its facilities in Chile due to a softening of iodine prices.

The Vancouver-based company says operations of its agitated leach plant and slurry plant at Aguas Blancas will be put on hold and that the installation of a grinding mill will be delayed.

The cost of the temporary curtailment of operations, including the layoff of 150 employees, is estimated to be approximately US$1 million.

Sirocco says its mining and heap leach operations will continue in 2014 with a forecast production of approximately 1,000 tonnes of iodine. Sales levels for 2014 are budgeted at approximately 1,300 tonnes, with heap leach production being supplemented by current iodine inventories.

It is anticipated that both the leach and slurry plant will be restarted early in 2015 and that completion of the grinding mill installation will follow soon after.

The world price for iodine has softened over the last 12 months, primarily due to increased production from Chile, exceeding the growth in demand.

"We regret that market conditions have necessitated a temporary reduction in iodine production and the deferral of the completion of the mill installation," said CEO Richard Clark.

"We are optimistic for higher iodine prices by the end of 2014 and into 2015."