GlenxoreXstrata has announced it will close its Mount Margaret operations as it finishes work at its last remaining open pit, E1 North, in March.
It started mining at the operations in July 2012, after it acquired the E1 and Monakoff copper tenements from Exco Resources.
At the time Xstrata said production from these deposits would make an “incremental contribution” to Ernest Henry’s production profile from the second half of 2012, and were designated as satellite operations to Ernest Henry.
Speaking to a spokesperson for Ernest Henry Mining, which runs Mt Margaret and is a division of GlencoreXstrata, they told Australian Mining that today’s announcement brings to an end a process started in September last year.
“In September 2013 we suspended work on four of the five open pits to further investigate ways to reduce mining costs and improve processing outcomes. Ultimately, we decided to place the operations into care and maintenance once we completed mining activities at E1 North,” they said.
The decision is expected to affect around 150 employees and 140 contractors.
The future of the mine was brought into question in November 2013, as construction finished at Ernest Henry, and reviews were ongoing.
“We kept our employees and contractors up-to-date throughout the review period and advised them of the outcome as soon as it was known in December to provide them with certainty.
“Since that time we have been engaging individually with our people, multiple times, helping them to plan for their future, and discussing their preference for either redeployment or taking a package,” and have been able to assist the majority of them with their work preference,” the spokesperson said.
“We have worked to redeploy our people, particularly local people, within our operations in the north-west region wherever possible, and are pleased to have been able to provide 85% of impacted personnel, and 92% of locals, with their preferred outcome,” they added.
However, around 30% of the workforce will remain on site until June to help shut down operations.
The Mount Margaret operations contributed around $589 million to the development of Ernest Henry, shifting it from an open cut into an underground operation.
Regarding the Ernest Henry mine, the spokesperson stated that “the underground mine and hoisting shaft are on track for completion in May this year and increase our life of mine by 12 years to at least 2024. We remain focused on increasing production from our underground mine to six million tonnes of ore per annum at full capacity”.