Australian miner Metro Mining has said it would bring forward a planned wet-season shutdown of its flagship bauxite mine as Covid-19 affected aluminium prices and worsened the chance of securing sales.

The Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland is expected to cease shipping ore earlier than usual, in mid-September, and restart in April 2021. Most of the workforce is expected to be made redundant with a small crew remaining on site, the company said in a statement.

Metro Mining chief executive Simon Finnis said the company was “extremely disappointed” that offtake contracts could not be finalised since Covid-19 impeded its bauxite marketing and sales programme.

“We live in very challenging times with many factors outside of our control. This decision has not been taken lightly and we will do all we can to assist our people and all stakeholders,” Finnis said.

The company enforced cost-cutting measures that include a reduction in directors’ fees and senior management salaries.

Metro’s negotiations for bauxite sales are still ongoing and the miner has said it could reopen the mine later this year if additional sales were secured for 2020 delivery.