Uncertain future for 320 Mt Lyell miners

Restarting production at Mt Lyell mine is still some weeks off, an announcement which leaves the future of 320 Tasmanian miners hanging in the balance.

Currently 207 workers employed by underground contractor Barminco and 113 Copper Mines of Tasmania personnel are on full pay, conducting essential services and maintenance work at the site.

But CMT General Manager Scot Clyde warned work is limited and the current situation is not sustainable for the miner.

Earlier this week Australian Mining revealed the mine is in the midst of holding discussions with Barminco and the unions to attempt to minimise the financial impact of an extended shutdown on its employees.

The companies are currently discussing how many people would be needed to keep the mine on care and maintenance and assist with investigations.

They are also looking to temporarily redeploy a number of employees nationally and internationally, and are requesting workers with accrued leave take the time off.

AWU deputy branch secretary Robert Flanagan said the union is concerned that many Barminco employees haven’t got a great deal of accrued leave.

The underground contractor has only been on site since September.

Flanagan told Australian Mining maintenance workers have about one month worth of work left.

Clyde said nothing would be decided without consultation with all its employees.

He explained that after three fatalities the company won’t be relaunching production works until it is confident it can be done safely, and so far no solution has been communicated.

“If we are able to find a way to safely re-commence ore production, it may take some time to develop and implement the necessary changes and modifications that may be required,” he said.

“We realise that people want some clarity about the future but unfortunately this takes time and as yet we do not have the answers.”

Clyde said CMT is enlisting the services of four external engineering consultants to reassess procedures at the copper mine.

“It will be some weeks before we get advice and have a clear view of the way forward,” he said.

If a solution is found for the troubled site, Worksafe Tasmania will need to assess any changes to hazard management procedures before giving approval to resume operations.

Investigations by the Police, Coroner and Worksafe Tasmania into the cause of the two tragic incidents that took the lives of three mine workers are ongoing.


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