Greg Ashe gives a Mount Isa Mines zinc update.It was enlightening to attend the Mount Isa Mines community consultation session at the Red Earth on Tuesday.

Glencore bossesMikeWesterman (Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s Australian Copper Assets) and Greg Ashe (Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s Australian Zinc Assets) gave the update on Mount Isa Mines’ copper and zinc businesses.

The meeting heard that Glencore’ global business was “resilient” and Australia remained an important part of their story.

They mentioned the good news that commodity prices were rebounding from the lows of the last few years but the market remained volatile and the focus was on maximising value of resources rather than volumes.

Mr Ashe told the meeting their North Queensland operations employed 4000 people, spent a billion dollars on goods and services, had a wages bill of $595m, had capital assets of $405m and spent $2.5m on community initiatives and in kind support.

Focussing on zinc, Mr Ashe said Lady Loretta remained in care and maintenance since 2015 and the Black Star open cut closed down in 2016.

He could not commit on when Lady Loretta would re-open saying the restart of idle capacity depended on market conditions, again reminding the audience the market was volatile despite current good prices.

He noted that Glencore were such a big player in the globalzinc market that any re-opening would likely affect the world price but Lady Loretta’s first year of operation on resumption would produce the highest grade of zinc the mine would ever produce.

Mr Westerman told the meeting the amount of copper concetrateproduced had increased in 2016 thanks to higher mined and milled ore tonnes in Mount Isa and Cloncurry but the anode tonnage was down due to unfavourable weather conditions shutting down the operation.

He said over the past two years they had extended the mines’ economic life from 2021 to 2023 due to production efficiencies but any future beyond that would depend on “cave mining and metallurgical processes”.“Success requires a comprehensive approach with cooperation from external parties,” he said. DB

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