We have a proud and long history of developing, mining, and processing copper and zinc-lead-silver resources across our sites in North Queensland. Our people, suppliers, and local communities have played a key role in the success our operations and the region.
Our Queensland Metals operations have made a significant socio-economic contribution over many decades, especially in Mount Isa.
On 18 October 2023, Glencore announced significant changes to our Queensland Metals business.
After 60 years of copper mining and a six-year extension beyond its original expected life of mine, the Mount Isa Mines underground copper operations (Enterprise, X41 and Black Rock) and copper concentrator will close in in the second half of 2025.
Over the next two years, Mount Isa Mines will transition operations to focus on our long-life zinc assets, and copper smelting and refining operations in North Queensland.
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.
There will be significant changes to our copper business, which include closing our underground copper mines and copper concentrator in Mount Isa. After 60 years of mining and a six-year extension beyond its original expected life of mine, the Mount Isa Copper Operations have now reached the end of their mine life.
We will continue to operate the zinc-lead concentrator and lead smelter in Mount Isa, as well as our long-life zinc-lead-silver George Fisher Mine. We also expect the copper smelter and refinery to continue operating to 2030, subject to approval of additional capital investment.
The copper mines and concentrator
We will gradually reduce operations and close our underground copper mines and copper concentrator in Mount Isa in the second half of 2025. Associated support services will also reduce in line with these changes.
This has been a difficult decision and follows numerous detailed studies to try to extend the life of these assets. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find any viable extension options.
We will take a staged approach to the closure of the operations, given the size and complexity of our assets to ensure it is safe and practical.
Importantly, 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’re notifying our workers and the community almost two years in advance.
We will be working closely with our people, local businesses, the community and all levels of government to help support this transition.
Zinc mining and processing
Importantly, our zinc-lead mining and processing operations have a strong future. George Fisher Mine at Mount Isa will operate until at least 2036 and the zinc-lead processing facilities and lead smelter will continue to operate.
To support increased zinc-lead mining at Mount Isa into the future, we are focusing on capital projects that will provide ventilation and cooling for new mining blocks.
As previously communicated, our Lady Loretta zinc mine which is operated by Redpath and has a finite seven-year mine life, will also close in 2025.
Mount Isa Mines’ long and proud history
We acknowledge these operational changes will impact the Mount Isa community and broader region. Our priority is to provide our people, business partners and the community with as much notice as possible about these changes, and to work together on what a transition process will look like for the broader community.
We will be working with all levels of government on how best to help the community transition for the longer-term future following the closure of the assets.
Glencore has initiated the development of a Social Transition Plan to address potential issues and help shape a collective vision for Mount Isa. The purpose of the plan is to develop a prioritised list of initiatives and opportunities to support the local community, workforce and businesses through the transition and into the longer-term future.
With the assistance of an external consultant, over the next six months we will be engaging a range of community stakeholders through one-on-one meetings, workshops and public forums to gather insights, ideas and feedback to inform the plan.
The plan aims to deliver three primary strategies for social investment priorities, impacted local employees who want to stay working in the region, and supporting local business and economic activity.
We acknowledge these operational changes will create concern for the workforce, community, and suppliers.
In the coming months we will be providing a range of forums for people to find out more information, ask questions and provide their feedback.