Australia Mining

Glencore To Cease Underground Copper Operations In Mount Isa After 60 Years

One of the world’s largest global diversified natural resources companies, Glencore is set to close its copper mining operations in Mount Isa by the end of 2025.

This decision marks the conclusion of six decades of copper mining in the region, causing an estimated loss of 1,000 jobs. 

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The affected operations include the Enterprise, X41, and Black Rock mines, along with the copper concentrator, while other metal assets, such as the copper smelter, George Fisher Mine, zinc-lead concentrator, lead smelter in Mount Isa, and the copper refinery in Townsville, will continue to operate.

Despite a series of comprehensive studies and reviews aimed at extending the life of the underground copper mines, Glencore has been compelled to close these operations due to insurmountable challenges. 

The investigations have shown that the remaining mineral resources are no longer economically viable, primarily due to low ore grades and geological conditions. The ageing infrastructure further compounded the difficulties.

Sam Strohmayr, Chief Operating Officer of Glencore’s Zinc Assets in Australia, acknowledged the disappointment this decision may cause for the company’s employees, suppliers, and the Mount Isa community. 

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

The Mount Isa underground copper mines, copper concentrator and supporting services currently employ around 1,2000 people.

The company has taken a proactive step of notifying its workers nearly two years before the scheduled closure of these operations. 

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

While the underground copper operations face closure, Glencore has affirmed its commitment to the long-term future of Mount Isa Mines. 

The George Fisher Mine, with a projected life span until 2036, and the zinc-lead concentrator and lead smelter will continue to operate. 

“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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