200 jobs lost in third closure of Wiluna lead mine

The Paroo Station lead mine will dismiss more than 200 employees next month when the mine closes for the third time in less than a decade.

Canadian miner Ivernia will place the mine on care and maintenance, requiring no more than 12 workers to maintain the controversial lead mine, the West Australian reported.

Ivernia CEO Wayne Richardson attributed the closure to plunging commodity prices, and cited a 23 per cent drop for lead since July 2014.

"Despite record production and sales in 2014 and the progress we have made to reduce costs and improve efficiencies at the mine, the current LME lead price has dropped well below sustainable levels and cannot support profitable ongoing operations,” he said.

“In order to protect shareholder value and conserve the viable deposits of our ore body, the decision has been made to place the mine on care and maintenance until further notice.”

Lead prices reached a high of around $2300 per tonne in July 2014, but fell sharply in the fourth quarter to a 30 month low.

A statement from Ivernia said the operation remains in compliance with operating permits and will be “poised to return to full production once price conditions improve”.

The Paroo Station mine has been closed twice before due to environmental management breaches involving lead dust contamination, in 2007 and 2011-12.

In each instance the breaches resulted in lead carbonate contamination during shipping, which resulted in contamination of the Esperance Port, contamination of rainwater tanks and residential areas, thousands of bird deaths and elevated lead levels in children.

Mine operator and Ivernia subsidiary Magellan Metals (now Rosslyn Hill Mining) paid $9 million towards the clean-up costs and used $1 million to establish a community fund.

Paroo Station lead mine is located approximately 30 kilometres west of Wiluna, in central West Australia.

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