Katters launch attack on Government’s Swiss Rollover at Mount Isa Mine

Jan 23, 2024

The State Government has been put on notice over its special treatment towards a large multinational mining company accused of destroying North Queensland’s minerals industry by Katter’s Australian Party.

The North Queensland-based party led by Traeger MP Robbie Katter has called on the State government to abolish the Mount Isa Mining Act which gave Glencore favourable operating conditions which the KAP says are being abused to the detriment of the region and to the benefit of the “unAustralian” global commodity trader.

“The covenant with the Queensland people has been broken with Glencore’s announcement in October to cease their copper operations in Mount Isa,” Robbie Katter said.

The KAP leader and Traeger MP said as a consequence the special status afforded Glencore in legislation needs to be revoked.

“It would be a surprise to most Queenslanders that Glencore benefits from having its own act of Parliament.

“The Act was created during the Bjelke-Petersen era to maximise the value of mining activity in Mount Isa in the belief that it would ultimately benefit the Queensland people.

“That covenant has been broken by Glencore, thus undermining the spirit in which the Act was formed for the people of Queensland.

“When they walk away from their lease, they have no right to have an Act supporting their operations.

“The Queensland Government, rather than pressuring the Swiss-based Global Mining Company to keep the mines open, to keep north Queensland jobs on that mine site, they pat them on the back and say ‘Go your merry way and you can still operate without even doing an environmental cleanup.’

“If Glencore won’t commit to restarting operations or selling their copper lease, then they need to have their special deal ripped up,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter said another operator should be given a chance to mine the remaining copper deposits at the site.

“They can’t be allowed to sit on reserves and not do anything with them.

“Glencore, in their annual report, says that there is all this ore left here at this value, but have told the rest of Australia there’s no ‘ore left and we are walking away from it.’  And everyone’s bought that.

“There’s plenty of mining companies that would love to jump right in there and buy that copper mine.  But Glencore can sit on the lease for the next 20 or 30 years and do nothing, and those 1,200 jobs will be lost to everyone forever,” Mr Katter said.

KAP candidate Clynton Hawks said the end of copper mining at Mount Isa would have a serious long-term economic repercussions in Townsville.

“The impact will be the same if not bigger than the demise of Queensland nickel in the city.   Blue collar workers like myself will be the ones mostly affected. 

“When QNI closed, the local economy went into a big black hole.  People lost their homes and marriages disintegrated.   The social impact was widespread and is still being felt today.  People in Townsville have long memories of the devastation that that visited upon the community,” Mr Hawks said.

KAP’s candidate for Mundingburra, Michael Pugh, said the Townsville-based Resource Minister needs to “put the blow torch to Glencore” because of the number of local jobs on the line when copper mining ceases at Mount Isa.

“The Townsville economy is a based on the movements of good through the port, but there’s less tonnage coming through here than five years ago.  That’s about to shrink even further with Glencore’s announcement.

“The treasurer said he would stop at nothing to protect 1,200 Virgin jobs in Brisbane when that airline threatened to move their head office to NSW.

“How about they stop at nothing to protect 1,200 Norther Queensland jobs,” Mr Pugh said.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter said the Queensland State government has two mechanisms available to hold Glencore accountable for their decision to cease copper mining at Mount Isa.

“Every State government in Queensland’s history has had available to them the principle of ‘use it or lose it.’  That is, if the mining company does not actively mine a site where there are proven resources, they lose the right to have the lease.

“The second weapon available to government is rehabilitation.  Once a resource has been exhausted, the Queensland State government can force the company to clean up the site.

“Two powerful weapons, but the Queensland State government is using neither of them because they couldn’t care less that1,200 people are about to lose their jobs,” Mr Katter said.