Glencore could extend its copper operations in Mt Isa, with Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell saying he expects a development proposal from the company shortly.
Glencore is set to close its smelting and refining operations by 2016 but access to more concentrate has raised hopes operations could continue until 2020.
Mike Westerman, chief operating officer of Glencore's North Queensland Copper Assets said the company is reviewing the potential of a small open cut copper pit within existing operations.
“Any option to extend the life of the copper smelter must be economically viable, environmentally sustainable and supported by the local community,” Westerman said.
“We continue to review our business to ensure we are competitive in the global market and we are always exploring options to extend the life of our assets."
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady has previously said keeping the smelter open would be “the shot in the arm” the community needs.
“This is about securing more than 800 jobs in Mount Isa and our sister city of Townsville and 4000 jobs across Queensland,” Cr McGrady said.
Powell said the government would ensure the timely assessment of Glencore’s plans once they are received, The North West Star reported.