Mines Department orders Cudeco to shut down

Company chair Peter Hutchinson at CuDeco in happier times with Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham. The Ministry has closed the mine on safety fears.
Company chair Peter Hutchinson at CuDeco in happier times with Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham. The Ministry has closed the mine on safety fears.

Troubled copper producer CuDeco has been forced to suspend operations at its Rocklands copper mine near Cloncurry after “a number of issues” were identified with the processing plant.

On November 30 CuDeco was ordered by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines to halt operations following an investigation.

The process plant will remain idle pending review of the mine’s site safety and health management system to ensure it complies with the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulations 2017, CuDeco told the ASX.

CuDeco is working with the Queensland government to complete the review of Rocklands’ safety and health management system “as quickly as possible”, company chair Peter Hutchison told investors.

“This is extremely disappointing given our recent progress towards achieving nameplate production, with November set to be a record month at our Cloncurry mine,” Mr Hutchison said.

“We will work closely with our approximately 300 employees and contractors to resolve these issues and avoid any repetition as we work together towards delivering a safe and productive operation.”

The Mines Department also shut down CuDeco in February after after the companies health and safety procedures did not match up to its documented system.

Safety concerns are not the only problem. Last week, the company settled a court battle with former chief Wayne McCrae over alleged unpaid termination entitlements. CuDeco agreed to fork out $650,000, including legal costs.

October was a difficult month for the Rocklands copper mine, which had to undergo a long, unplanned shutdown due to issues with the ball mill that affected the copper grades.

Mr Hutchison said earlier the problems were “gradually being resolved” and production was just under nameplate.

Mr Hutchison told last week’s AGM that CuDeco “can and must do better” with Rocklands’s “trials and tribulations”.