Glencore’s Mount Isa copper mine, employing 1200 workers, set to close after reaching ‘end of life’

Glencore will cease operations in Mt Isa at one of the biggest copper mines in the world from 2025.

The multinational company has notified 1200 workers that after 60 years mining copper in the far northwest Queensland city, underground operations and the copper concentrator will close.

“Glencore has conducted a range of studies and reviews seeking to further extend the life of the underground copper mines but unfortunately it has not been possible and they have reached the end of mine life,” the miner said in a statement.

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“The studies revealed the remaining mineral resources are not economically viable due to low ore grades and areas where, due to geological conditions, safe extraction can’t be achieved using current technology, this all coupled with ageing infrastructure.”

The company said its Lady Loretta zinc mine situated 140km northwest of Mt Isa will also close in 2025.

Chief operating officer Sam Strohmayr said it was disappointing the mine’s life had reached its end and the company wanted to give affected workers and their families time to prepare.

He said it was too early to determine how many of the 1200 Mt Isa employees would receive redundancies.

“Our focus over the coming months will be to work closely with our people and contractors, our suppliers and the Mount Isa community to provide support as we move towards closure of these assets,” he said.

“Redundancies are the last resort and will be offered only when other options have been exhausted.”

Glencore said Mount Isa Mines’ other metals assets including the copper smelter, George Fisher Mine, zinc-lead concentrator, the lead smelter and the copper refinery in Townsville will all continue operating.

After 60 years of copper mining in Mount Isa, Glencore’s operations are set to close. Credit: AAP

The Australian Workers’ Union has labelled it “an incredibly sad day for the entire Mount Isa community”.

State secretary Stacey Schinnerl has called for the Queensland government to provide support to workers.

“AWU members at Mount Isa Mines have been delivering for the Queensland economy for almost a century,” she said in a statement.

“They have generated billions of dollars in revenue for the Queensland Government and resources companies like Glencore.

“Now is the time for the Government and Glencore to provide our members the support that they have always provided them.

“I have been in contact with Treasurer (Cameron) Dick and I have made it clear that our members expect the government to leave no stone unturned when it comes to providing direct support to the Mount Isa community and affected workers.”

– With Warren Barnsley

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