The Queensland Liberal Party has vowed to save around 500 direct jobs in Mount Isa and Townsville by extending the life of Glencore’s copper smelter operations, should they win the state election at the end of the month.
Glencore is planning to wind up operations at their Mount Isa smelter and Townsville refinery next year, however Environment Minister Andrew Powell told the North West Star yesterday that the LNP would look at locking in Glencore’s environmental approval to operate until the year 2020.
‘‘We will make a legislative change that allows us to lock in the environmental improvements that Glencore have made in Mount Isa… That then gives them a certainty to operate as long as they have got a resource,’’ Mr Powell said.
‘‘This would not have come about without the hard work of David Crisafulli and Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady, and I thank him for his willingness to sit down and work through this with us.
‘‘In my mind this is a win-win. It’s a win for the environment and it is also a win for the economy and jobs in Mount Isa and Townsville.
However Mike Westerman, chief operating officer at Mount Isa Mines, while welcoming the announcement also advised caution.
“Today’s announcement is a positive first step; however, any extension of the copper smelter will need to be economically viable, environmentally sustainable, internationally competitive and supported by our local communities.” Mr Westerman said.
“The team at Mount Isa Mines will continue to work in 2015 to establish the business case for an extension of the copper smelter.”