Glencore says it is in the final stages of reviewing the business case for the Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville refinery.
Coming a few weeks after unions and Mount Isa mayor called for certainty over their future, Glencore said these assets were facing significant international competition and high fixed costs in Australia which negatively impacts their ongoing commercial viability.
"We have been transparent about the challenges and discussions are ongoing with both the Queensland and Federal Governments," Glencore Queensland Metals said in response to questions from the North West Star
The bricks which line the smelter were last updated in 2018 and are due to be replaced in 2022 and Glencore will need to make a decision soon for new bricks to be ordered in time.
Glencore said they expect to communicate a final decision on the metallurgical assets in the next four to six weeks.
"It has been challenging for many businesses in many different industries this year," the company said.
"A decision has been made to combine the zinc and copper operations to optimise the recovery of economic ore resources and create a business that is sustainable long term.
When asked how the new merged zinc and copper business was going and whether it led to any job losses, Glencore said they were committed to optimising the economic recovery of the copper and zinc ore resources in North Queensland for the benefit of the region.
"The restructure will help us do that by developing a holistic long-term metals plan for the Mount Isa complex," they said.
"This plan will improve efficiencies in site operations, safety and financial performance. We are working to ensure any job losses are minimised, and where possible redeployment opportunities are being offered.
Glencore said this transition would take time so it was still too early to provide comment on final job impacts.
"We have been mining in Mount Isa for almost 100 years and we want to continue mining for generations to come," they said.
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