Buzz builds in Queensland with Glencore, Rio jobs resurgence

A drilling crew at the George Fisher mine. Image: Glencore Mt Isa Mines

Leading miners Glencore and Rio Tinto have sent job seekers in Queensland’s mining industry into a frenzy over the past week.

Glencore started the flurry of interest when it unveiled plans to fill more than 200 jobs at its Mt Isa copper and zinc operations.

The Swiss-based miner has since provided more detail about its strategy in the region, saying that it would restart operations at the Lady Loretta underground zinc mine near Mount Isa.

Glencore expects to create up to 250 new jobs as it ramps up operations at the zinc mine.

Production at Lady Loretta was suspended in 2015 as zinc prices declined. Zinc has, however, recovered over the past two years, with prices increasing by 107 per cent.

Glencore has forecast that it will add around 100 million tonnes (Mt) of zinc concentrate to its production profile following the Lady Loretta restart.

Not to be outdone, Rio Tinto announced it was seeking more than 100 workers to fill roles at its bauxite operations in Far North Queensland.

Rio’s recruitment drive is for a diverse range of positions at the existing Weipa mines at Andoon and East Weipa and for the Amrun project.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the state’s North West has the potential to unearth vast amounts of copper, zinc and gold, which are the minerals used in new technologies including batteries, mobile phones and solar panels.

“Zinc is a key ingredient in alkaline batteries and with Christmas upon us it’s a timely reminder not to forget to buy batteries if your Christmas presents need them,” Macfarlane said.

“What we are seeing right across commodities is a jobs story especially in regional economies. We’ve seen 550 jobs added to the market this week with Glencore Copper and Lady Loretta and Rio Tinto announcing an extra 100 at its Weipa operations.”

Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham reinforced the importance of these operations in the Far North and North West areas of the state.

”The resources sector supports one in seven jobs in Queensland and clearly will continue to be a major contributor to our regional economies and the royalties that help fund our schools and hospitals,” Dr Lynham said.

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