Mount Isa will experience the rare event of the copper smelter going silent again in 2022.
In the 2018 rebricking four major vessels, including the primary Isasmelt furnace were completely stripped and relined with new, custom refractory bricks while the smelter's off-gas system was also upgraded.
That time Glencore turned down state government funding to do the work themselves saying "investment decisions should be made based on the prevailing economic conditions", but four years on it will happen again with government money in a commercial-in-confidence deal believed to be worth $30-40 million, in a move Bob Katter says "saved Mount Isa".
The premier announced the deal at the start of the 2020 election campaign in September.
Now Glencore Queensland Metals boss Matt O'Neill says the work will be carried out in 2022.
"That funding allowed us to commit to the re-bricking which we've done and we've ordered bricks and all those things for the copper smelter," Mr O'Neill said.
"Without that government support we wouldn't have the copper smelter, and 500 people have a job because of that."
Mr O'Neill was speaking after a recent community engagement session in Mount Isa where he said Glencore had committed to net zero by 2050 and demand for metals like copper and zinc was more than doubling was growing to serve the new economy. .
And while that plays to Glencore Queensland Metals strengths, it poses its own challenges given the already tight commodities market.
"There are opportunities for our business and our region but the question how to we meet those increases in ,market, I don't know where the supply is going to come from," he said.
"This is a question bigger than Queensland or Australia, how do you supply that much copper or zinc or cobalt or nickel into the market by 2050 to meet net zero?"
Mr O'Neill believed the industry would get there in the end to meet the challenge.
The North West Star asked Mr O'Neill if that meant would it come down to the explorers finding more metals.
"Yes, to a degree," he responded.
"But we know about a lot of the mineralisation already, what needs to change is either the technology for processing it or the input costs around how you do it."
Mr O'Neill said the other option is that if commodity prices increase further due to demand mining of less efficient grades becomes more of a profitable proposition.
"How that all occurs, the free market will make that determination, that's what you'll see in the next few years in the resources industry," he said.
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