Mt Isa Motivation

Mt Isa Motivation

November 3, 2023 Off By Tom Duggan

The reveal that Mt Isa Mines was shutting up the copper shop after an illustrious century of production was taken with a mix of sadness, outrage, and sympathy for the thousands affected, and the Queensland government is staring down the prospect of losing one of its most significant industries.

An always eclectic Bob Katter, the Federal representative of the area, was in a state of rage after the Glencore decision to shut down its Mt Isa Mines copper operations, saying that government discussions were now being had with great aggression.

Glencore will continue to own and operate the region’s smelter, something Katter was no more enthused about than the closures.

“The smelter controls the whole province. Everyone is answerable to the smelter. If they take one step out the door and think they will stay on as a vampire, they will be kicked out,” Mr Katter said.

“If the government doesn’t kick them out, there will be severe trouble for the government in north Queensland. If they have the slightest scintilla of backbone or Australianism left in them, and I doubt that, they kick them out.”

“They are being left with the blood right suck off the working Australians producing the copper and not produce themselves. Just bludge off Australians. That is the nature of their continued ownership of that facility.”

In an unusual show of solidarity with a conservative politician, the Queensland secretary of The Australian Workers’ Union, Stacey Schinnerl, used equally strong language.

“This is a fight for Mount Isa, the capital of the northwest minerals province and the epicentre of the next mining boom,” her statement read.
“We will do everything in our power to hold the government and Glencore to account in delivering the support and dignity that the Mount Isa community deserves.”

Meanwhile, local MP Robbie Katter said he did not believe Glencore that the mine had become unviable.

“The reality is no one wants Glencore here in the Northwest – we want an owner who is less interested in playing games and more interested in mining the $750 billion worth of untapped critical minerals in the region,” he said.

“If our future out here is so tied to the whims of a fickle global commodity trader, then we need to re-assess the operating conditions we have created and the value our government has placed on mining to our economy.”

It was a shocking decision, but the new tiers, which gave Queensland the highest taxing royalty rate in the world, had been met with anger and already had significant companies doubting their future in the sunshine state.

However, comments made by the Queensland Resources Council CEO, Ian Macfarlane, have warned that the government’s eagerness to enforce royalties, as demonstrated by the coal royalty, may result in premature mine closures and raise doubts regarding investors’ willingness to invest.

“If you listen to foreign investors – from BHP to Coronado – Queensland is not just on the nose for future investment but is on the nose for everything,” he told The Australian Financial Review in May.

“It’s because, with the change in the regulatory regime without consultation, the government has said to investors they were prepared to change the rules at any time.”

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tried to envoy hope to the 1200 workers without a job in 2025.

Ms Palaszczuk said the workers and their families would find accepting it complex. However, an industry was still in the heart of one of the world’s most productive provinces.

“Northwest Queensland is central to the delivery of critical minerals needed for global decarbonisation, and skilled workers like those at Glencore are vital for this new industry that is set to generate thousands of jobs,” she said.

The current government has taken several steps to support the industry. It plans to take control of a five-billion-dollar proposal for the CopperString powerline that will unlock the development of new mineral deposits in the region.

Earlier this year, it unveiled a Critical Mineral Strategy backed by $245 million in funding.
However, these measures may not be enough to win industry support. The closure of the mine will undoubtedly impact Palaszczuk’s waning popularity and the direction of the state’s resources industry when Queenslanders go to the polls next year.

Although all good things come to an end, ore grades fall, and deposits run dry, the immense future copper demands of global electrification present Queensland with the challenge of capitalising on its substantial natural resources.

“If the state government does not act, they will be destroyed in north Queensland. That is not only a commitment but also telling you what will happen,” Bob Katter warned.

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