Oct 18, 2023

“Mount Isa and Queensland will be learning today of Glencore’s decision to close its Mount Isa Copper Operation (Mount Isa Mines) in 2025.

I understand their other local operations, at George Fisher and the lead and copper smelter, and refinery in Townsville will continue while operations at Lady Loretta are also forecast to cease in 2025.

The impact of this decision to the North West region is unfathomable, directly removing 1,100 local jobs at MICO alone. This does not include FIFO workers or contractors.

I have been receiving briefings late yesterday and early this morning.

The main point here is history; you have a global commodity trader in Glencore that in 2020, just before the last State Election, told us their Townsville copper smelter was unviable and had no future, and it has now been expanded to 2030.

Glencore also told us Ernest Henry Mine had no future, and a new purchaser did the work and chased new investment and added 17 years of new life to that mine.

Glencore has been telling us globally the future of copper is bright, investing heavily in African and South American copper mines, but have been progressively retreating from their Australian interests.

The reality is no one wants Glencore here in the North West – we want an owner who is less interested in playing games and more interested in mining the $750 billion worth of untapped critical minerals that exist in the region.

If they have no appetite for risk or long-term planning and development, it is time they move aside and allow an operator into the North West Minerals Province who is.

I am convinced there is a future for the copper operation, and of course in the region more broadly.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has a role to play in responding to this decision and needs to make our State more attractive for mining investors, lower barriers for mining approvals and provide certainty on a start date for the CopperString 2.0 project.

If our future out here is so tied to the whims of a fickle global commodity trader, then we need to re-assess the operating conditions that we have created and the value our government has placed on mining to our economy. “