Home » End of an Era: Glencore to Shut Down Mt Isa Copper Mine in 2025 

End of an Era: Glencore to Shut Down Mt Isa Copper Mine in 2025 

The mining giant ends a 60-year history of copper mining in the region

by Motoni Olodun

The mining giant Glencore has announced that it will close its underground copper mine and concentrator in Mount Isa, Queensland, as well as the Lady Loretta zinc mine, by the second half of 2025. The decision will affect around 1,200 workers and contractors, and the company and the state government will offer support and assistance.

The closure of the Mount Isa copper mine marks the end of a 60-year history of copper mining in the region, which began in 1963. The mine has produced over 10 million tonnes of copper metal and contributed significantly to the local economy and community. However, Glencore said the remaining resource was not economically viable due to low ore grades and geological challenges. The company also cited the aging infrastructure and high operating costs in its decision.

Glencore said that it had conducted several studies and reviews to try to extend the life of the underground copper mine, but none of them were feasible. The company said it notified its workers and the community almost two years before the closure to give them enough time to consider their options and plan for their future.

Glencore’s other metal assets in Mount Isa, including the copper smelter, George Fisher Mine, zinc-lead concentrator, lead smelter, and the copper refinery in Townsville, will continue operating. The company said that it would invest in the long-term future of these assets, which are expected to operate until at least 2030. The company said these assets were important for the North West Minerals Province and Queensland’s critical minerals industry.

The Queensland government has announced an A$50-million support package for the affected workers and the Mount Isa community. The package includes up to A$30 million to accelerate the development of resource projects in the North West Minerals Province in the next five years and up to A$20 million to be matched by Glencore for an economic structural adjustment package for Mount Isa and North West Queensland.

The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the government was committed to protecting jobs and retaining skilled workers in the region. She said North West Queensland was central to delivering critical minerals needed for global decarbonization and that the government would do everything it could to support workers and their families to find new opportunities.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said Glencore’s decision was unfortunate but understandable. The QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said the announcement highlighted the need for new resource investment in Queensland to develop new projects as major mines like this reach the end of their life. He urged the government to create policies encouraging investment in new resource projects and cut through red tape and regulation.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) also called on the government to encourage further investment in the resources sector. The AWU Queensland secretary, Stacey Schinnerl, said that the union expected the government to support the Mount Isa community directly and affected workers. She also demanded that Glencore provide redeployment opportunities to local workers affected by the closures.

The closure of the Mount Isa copper mine is a sad moment for Queensland’s mining heritage but also a chance for new beginnings. The region has enormous potential for new discoveries and developments that could create thousands of jobs and economic benefits for Queensland. With the support of the government, industry, and community, Mount Isa can look forward to a bright future.

Mining Weekly 


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