On 18 October 2023, Glencore announced significant changes to their Queensland Metals business.
"After 60 years of copper mining and a six-year extension beyond its original expected life of mine, the Mount Isa Mines underground copper operations (Enterprise, X41 and Black Rock) and copper concentrator will close in in the second half of 2025," a Glencore spokesperson said.
Glencore's announcement has been subject to scrutiny from MP Bob Katter who said, "All it requires is for the government to not ignore the pain and misery of 2000 people."
The crux of Katter's concern is that the loss of thousands of jobs will greatly impact the Isa community.
He is pushing for the mine to continue operating beyond 2025.
"All they need to do is force the issue of remediation, the mine opens, and those people will not be destroyed," he said.
In order for the town to have a prosperous future, Dr Liam Phelan, from the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at Newcastle University, said that the planning process that decides the future of the town needs to involve community consultation.
"The future of Isa is the responsibility of the town and the mining companies. It is important that the processes that decide the fate of Isa stem from consultation with the community," he said.
According to Dr Phelan, it is the first time in history we are starting to see large mines close. Therefore, planning is essential.
"If a mine is intended to shut down, communities need to look ahead of time and ask what the town will look like in the future. It's not a question of simply surviving but finding ways to flourish," he said.
Through town hall meetings and direct consultation better outcomes can be achieved.
"It is fairly standard that in situations such as these, more powerful voices such as governments and large multi-national corporations are easily heard," Dr Phelan said.
"Community consultation is therefore essential in deciding the future of the town."
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