It’s the news many in the North West have been hanging out for since 2015 and it could be a good Christmas present for some – Lady Loretta zinc is about to re-open.
Glencore has noted overnight at its investor update on December 12 that production guidance for 2018 included a gradual restart of suspended zinc production in Australia.
The company said Lady Loretta mine, near Gunpowder about 110km north west of Mount Isa, would restart operations in the first half of 2018, which will include a ramp up period.
Glencore said that following a tender process, Brisbane based Redpath Australia has been awarded a mining contract to operate the mine.
Employment opportunities will be available for qualified candidates, including locally based people where possible.
In its investor update Glencore said they were predicting an increase of 195kt for zinc in the 2018-20 period which “reflects anticipated restart of Lady Loretta”.
In Glencore’s community consultation session earlier this year their zinc assets boss Greg Ashe said they wanted more clarity and certainty in the market before making a decision to reopen.
“We’ve seen a positive uptick in commodity prices which is a good thing but the volatility is still there, 18 months ago (zinc) was at a five year low, today we’re at a 10 year high,” Mr Ashe said in August.
In October 2015, Glencore made the decision to reduce global zinc production to preserve the value of this finite resource in a low commodity price environment putting the high grade Lady Loretta into care and maintenance, axing 500 jobs in the process there and at George Fisher.
It was bad news for Mount Isa however the decision worked for Glencore with the swing producer seeing an almost immediate rise in the price of zinc.
Glencore said the operating status of its other zinc mines in Australia, George Fisher underground mine at Mount Isa Mines and the McArthur River Mine in the Northern Territory, has not changed and will be reviewed on a regular basis.