Copper, News

“Unprecedented” rainfall forces Qld production halt

With residents in north-west Queensland preparing to evacuate, a number of miners in the area have suspended production amid torrential rainfall.

North-west Queensland has began its wet season with approximately 370mm of rainfall over seven days, resulting in a loss of access to 29Metals’ Capricorn copper mine and New Century’s Century mine and Karumba Port Facility.

The rain has also forced the closure of Austral Resources Australia’s Lady Annie operations, located 110km north-west of Mount Isa.

Production at the sites will not resume until the weather improves and access to the sites can be achieved safely.

“The safety and well-being of our employees and business partners remains paramount,” New Century said in an announcement.

“No safety incidents have occurred, and core infrastructure remains secure, including the Century tailings storage facility, processing plant and pipeline.”

All companies are working with state authorities, including the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and the Carpentaria and Burke Shire Local Disaster Management Committees, to further understand the risks.

“This is not an uncommon event, and our preparation and the management practices of the site team have been exemplary,” Austral said in an ASX announcement.

While not uncommon, the scale of the flooding is unprecedented, with major warnings being issued for parts of the state, reminiscent of the tragic January floods in Western Australia.

Residents of towns across the Gulf of Carpentaria in the state’s north have been told to prepare for evacuation, with 70 of Burketown’s residents already being moved to higher ground.

“Our focus today and for the next couple of days is the Burketown area and Doomadgee,” District Disaster Management Group (DDMG) coordinator Elliott Dunn told the ABC.

“This is an unprecedented flood, so there’s no textbook on this one.

“While there is no immediate need to evacuate the entire town, people should be prepared to evacuate.”

Mine sites across the state have heeded this warning, evacuating all non-essential personnel.

“The suspension of production and non-essential activities will impact production results for the current quarter,” 29Metals said in a statement. “However, the safety of 29Metals’ workforce and the management of water in accordance with 29Metals’ environmental responsibilities are the highest priority.”

A preliminary assessment conducted at the Capricorn mine has shown that production could be suspended for as long as four weeks.

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