Australia’s Mount Lyell copper mine closes operations

8 July 2014 (Last Updated July 8th, 2014 18:30)

Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) has decided to put its Mount Lyell copper mine in Queenstown, Tasmania, under care and maintenance, leaving 200 workers jobless.

Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) has decided to put its Mount Lyell copper mine in Queenstown, Tasmania, under care and maintenance, leaving 200 workers jobless.

The mine was closed in January this year following the death of three miners within two months: two died after falling from a height and another miner died in a mud rush.

Since the closure, CMT has been paying half salaries to 239 out of 320 employees who worked at the mine.

"The discovery of a rock fall in the mine's ventilation drive… was a bitter blow as we were preparing for a staged restart of operations."

The company had hoped to restart production at the mine this month, but a rock fall on a ventilation shaft last week has further delayed the plans.

CMT general manager Scot Clyde said that, after exploring all available options to keep the mine open and the workforce together, the company has reluctantly decided to put the mine into care and maintenance.

"The discovery of a rock fall in the mine's ventilation drive on Friday 27 June was a bitter blow as we were preparing for a staged restart of operations following the long shutdown," Clyde said.

"This has been a very difficult decision for CMT and for our parent company Vedanta, especially after the large financial commitment to support our workforce on standby pay since the suspension of mining operations in January 2014."

Barminco Holdings was quoted by Mining Australia as saying that the company will offer redeployment opportunities across Australia to Mount Lyell's 169 workers.

Clyde said that 15 workers will be retained for care and maintenance, and the company will continue its drilling exploration for new ore bodies on the Mount Lyell lease, with the aim of reopening the mine in at least 18 months.

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