Mount Isa Mines operational changes
Mount Isa, Australia
Glencore has notified its workers that after 60 years of copper mining, the Mount Isa Mines underground copper operations (Enterprise, X41 and Black Rock) and copper concentrator will close in H2 2025.
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 unfortunately 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, this all coupled with ageing infrastructure.
Glencore’s Lady Loretta zinc mine, located 140 kilometres north-west of Mount Isa, which was a finite orebody with a seven-year mine life will also close in 2025.
Chief Operating Officer of Glencore’s Zinc Assets in Australia, Sam Strohmayr, said:
“We know this decision will be disappointing for our people, our 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.”
“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.
“It’s too early to put a figure on how many people may receive redundancies until we work through a process of speaking to each worker and discuss options around retention, redeployment, and retraining. 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.”
Notes for editors
About Glencore Australia
In Australia, Glencore produces coal, copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc, lead and silver from 23 mining operations. We also operate metals processing assets in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, including metals smelters, concentrators and refineries.
We are among Australia’s largest producers and marketers of natural resources, connecting Australian resources with industrial customers around the world. Through our diverse portfolio, we responsibly supply the resources that advance everyday life.
We employ 18,190 people in Australia and in 2022 contributed nearly $20 billion to the regional, state and national economies. This included spend of $10.4 billion with 7,370 businesses across the country, as well as $7.5 billion in government tax and royalty payments.
We are committed to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace for our people, to respecting the environment, to engaging openly and constructively with the Traditional Owners on whose lands we operate and to bringing value to local communities.
Glencore recognises our responsibility to contribute to the global effort to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Our ambition is to be a net zero total emissions company by 2050. In August 2021 we increased our medium-term emission reduction target to a 50% reduction by 2035 and introduced a new short-term target of a 15% reduction by 2026.
Learn more about Glencore Australia.
About Mount Isa Mines
Mount Isa Mines operates two separate mining and processing streams, copper and zinc-lead-silver, to deliver natural resources that have enduring roles in our society. The site hosts the world’s largest zinc resource base, as well as the biggest network of underground mine development in the world.
The site includes three copper underground mines, two zinc underground mines, the copper concentrator and smelter, as well as the zinc-lead concentrator, lead smelter and zinc filter plant. Together, these represent one of Australia’s largest industrial complexes.
As well as the Australian market, our products are exported to countries throughout Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, contributing billions of dollars to the Australian economy every year. We provide work for about 3,500 employees and contractors and are dedicated to supporting local people, local businesses, and creating strong links between our operations and the city of Mount Isa.