An iconic outback Australian town is facing the fight of its life with more than 1,000 jobs set to be lost from its vital industry.
Mining giant Glencore announced this week that its Mount Isa underground mine in north-west Queensland would close within two years, citing poor ore quality and aging infrastructure.
The closure of one of the world’s largest copper mines will not only impact the mine’s 1,200 workers, it will also have a dramatic knock-on effect on the 18,317 residents who call Mount Isa home.
Homeowners have flooded the phones of City & Country Realty, a local real estate agency, expressing concerns about a potential decline in the real estate market, owner John Tully told the ABC.
“People are definitely panicking, but our message to our customers is one of calm until this decision is a little more planned out and we know more details…panic is not the right way to go,” did he declare.
“I think this is going to shake us up for 12 months. But I think there are enough industrial projects in the area that will support the community for a long time.
Locals admire the view of the Mount Isa mines, which will close in 2025
Chamber of Commerce president Emma Harman doesn’t believe mine closure will mean the end of Mount Isa
Community leaders have pledged to rally behind residents to ensure the mining town is not wiped off the map, with new mines earmarked for the area.
But they admit the news is a devastating blow to the city.
“The reaction has been mixed,” Chamber of Commerce president Emma Harman told Daily Mail Australia.
“While many people are quite shocked and have a sense of pessimism, others are much more pragmatic.
“Yes, there is a period of change and transition ahead, but that does not mean the end of Mount Isa.”
“This transition period may be uncomfortable for a while, but now is not the time to panic. Mount Isa has a promising future.
Mayor Danielle Slade added: “We knew this day would come, but it’s still a bitter pill.”
“I will work to ensure that Glencore puts local people as its top priority when it comes to who comes first.
“Mount Isa is tough and resilient. And this isn’t the end of mining – it’s barely the beginning.
Mount Isa Mines is located on the edge of the outback town where fewer than 20,000 people live.
Mount Isa Mayor Danielle Slade described Glencore’s announcement as a “bitter pill”.
Glencore’s announcement sparked an impromptu visit from the Queensland government, which announced a $50 million support package.
This includes approximately $30 million to accelerate the creation of new mines in the region.
“Glencore has made it very clear to us that there is nothing the Queensland Government can say, do or pay to keep the mines operating in this community,” Treasurer Cameron Dick said.
“The government’s work is now focused on supporting miners’ families and the community in the future.
“Mount Isa is part of Queensland’s mining heritage and will be part of Queensland’s mining future. »
Mount Isa is a proud mining town which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023
Glencore has not yet revealed how many jobs at Mount Isa Mines will be lost
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk acknowledged it would be a difficult decision for many workers and their families to accept.
“But we will always do what we can to help workers and their families find new, safe, quality jobs,” she said.
“Mount Isa has been here for a century. We will support this city.
The untouched minerals discovered in the northwest province are estimated to be worth $500 billion.
Glencore is remaining tight-lipped on how many jobs will be lost at the Mount Isa mine before the facility closes in the second half of 2025.
Its other metal assets, including the copper smelter, George Fisher mine, zinc-lead concentrator and Mount Isa lead smelter, will all continue to operate.
But its Lady Loretta zinc mine, located 140 kilometers northwest of the city, will also close in 2025.
“The reality of mining is that mines have a beginning, a middle and an end. And, unfortunately, after 60 years of operation, the Mount Isa underground copper operations have now served their purpose,” said Glencore Chief Operating Officer Sam Strohmayr.
“We want to give our people as much time as possible to think about the best options for them and their families. That’s why we’re notifying our workers and the community nearly two years before these mines close.”
Community leaders have pledged to rally with the people of Mount Isa to ensure the mining town continues to thrive and is not wiped off the map.