Metals X has decided to immediately suspend mining activities at its Nifty copper mine in Western Australia following an operational review, leaving almost 300 people jobless.
The company will process current ore stocks at the Pilbara-based mine during the next week then the mine, processing facilities and infrastructure will be placed on care and maintenance.
This decision will allow Metals X to focus on its 50 per cent joint venture (JV) stake in the Renison tin operations in Tasmania, which is Australia’s largest tin producer.
Although resources and reserves improved considerably following the Nifty reset plan, which was announced in May 2019, production has plateaued in recent weeks and the review showed Metals X was unlikely to achieve planned production at a reasonable cost.
The board, refreshed with three new directors after the October annual general meeting, decided continuing Nifty’s operations would not be in the best interests of shareholders.
Metals X managing director Damien Marantelli said the decision to halt operations was difficult for the company, which was now prioritising the welfare of its 320 staff and 110 contractors.
“The company is in discussions with people affected by these changes,” Marantelli said.
“We will require a small workforce to ensure the mine and associated infrastructure is appropriately maintained so that it could be quickly returned to production, but there will be approximately 290 staff losses.
“We are naturally very disappointed for those people whose jobs are affected and we are providing support, including our best efforts to find alternative employment, as well as ensuring they receive their appropriate entitlements.”
While the company is hoping to bring production back to Nifty in the future, its first priority is those who have lost their jobs, the cost of which has been fully incorporated into the initial cost of suspending operations.
During the operational hiatus period, Metals X is planning to process available drilling data to upgrade Nifty’s resource base, which will support planning for future mining operations.
Metals X’s board is also reviewing Nifty’s strategic options and will appoint external advisors.