The Federal Government has made a draft decision approving the McArthur River Mine expansion, however, the decision is too little too late, according to Xstrata Zinc Australia Chief Operating Officer Brian Hearne.
Xstrata had been unable to mine at McArthur River since a Federal Court ruling found the operation was wrongly approved.
Yesterday, Environment Minister Peter Garrett advised key stakeholders that he intends to approve, with conditions, the proposal for MRM’s open-pit expansion.
“It is a pity that this decision has taken this long as it has put MRM in a difficult position. The cost of the delay to our business and our suppliers’ businesses is irrecoverable,” Hearne said.
“The reality is that we run out of our zinc-lead ore stockpiles at MRM within the next days. During the week we sought to treat sub-standard ore which was unsuccessful and we therefore have exhausted stockpiles earlier than anticipated.”
“Until we have a final decision from Minister Garrett, we have no choice but to transition to care and maintenance. This means ceasing all on-site operational activities in a safe, systematic and appropriate manner.
According to Hearne, with the mine in care and maintenance the workforce of 300 may drop under 40 in the coming weeks.