Glencore has announced that the Mount Isa Mines underground copper operations and copper concentrator will be closing in 2025, after operating for 60 years. 

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

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

The studies revealed that 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. All of this is coupled with aging infrastructure.  

Glencore’s Lady Loretta zinc mine, located 140km north-west of Mount Isa, which was a finite orebody with a seven-year mine life, is also set for closure in 2025.  

Glencore’s Chief Operating Officer of Zinc Assets in Australia, Sam Strohmayr, said that Glencore knows that this decision will be disappointing for its people, its suppliers, and the Mount Isa community. 

“The reality of mining is that mines have a beginning, middle and end. And unfortunately, after 60 years of operation, Mount Isa’s underground copper operations have now reached that end,” Mr Strohmayr said.  

“We want to give our people as much time as possible to consider the best options for them and their families, which is why we are notifying our workers and the community almost two years before these mines close.  

“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. 

“Our Mount Isa underground copper mines, copper concentrator and supporting services currently employ around 1,200 people.”

Mr Strohmayr said that it’s too early to put a figure on how many people may receive redundancies until Glencore works through a process of speaking to each worker and discussing options around retention, redeployment, and retraining. 

Mr Strohmayr said redundancies are the last resort and will be offered only when other options have been exhausted.

“Glencore will continue to invest in the long-term future of Mount Isa Mines, including the George Fisher Mine with a current life of mine to 2036, and our zinc-lead concentrator and lead smelter.  

“We also expect the copper smelter and refinery to continue operating to 2030, subject to approval of additional capital investment. 

“These are important strategic assets, not just for Glencore but for the North West Minerals Province and the future of Queensland’s critical minerals industry.”

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