Miners to learn future of wages

WORKERS from the closed Mount Lyell mine at Queenstown will learn about their wage futures on Friday, as Copper Mines Tasmania continues to investigate how it can safely and economically re-open the mine.

The mine was closed when a man died in January after a mudslide following the deaths of two men who fell from a maintenance platform in December, 2013.

Between 150 and 240 employees of Copper Mines Tasmania and its contractor Barminco have been living on half pay arrangements since February.

The company is expected to make an announcement on Friday about the half pay, and to update the community on the shutdown.

A Workplace Standards report into the three deaths is due out in June or July.

Australian Workers Union secretary Robert Flanagan said it was a tense wait and see scenario.

"We would hope that they [CMT] have found a way to operate the mine safely and people can get back to work, but if we are not in that space then we would hope that this level of assistance for affected employees would continue," Mr Flanagan said.

The state government has supplied up to $350,000 and a further $500,000 has been supplied by the West Coast Council, to supplement the employees' half pays.

West Coast Council Mayor Robyn Gerrity said up to 60 employees from the mine were working two days a week for the council on rotation, extending footpaths, restoring a historic police station, and erecting road safety barriers.

She said the current hardship wage funding should last until May.

"From what I gather the workers are happy with the situation. It gives them something to do," she said.

"Each community is appreciative and proud to see the work that is being done in their towns."

Resources Minister Paul Harriss met mining representatives with Premier Will Hodgman in Burnie last week.

Mr Harriss said he will be meeting Copper Mine Tasmania management in late April.

"That is to discuss a whole range of matters so that I can understand the issues that caused the closure and so on," Mr Harriss said.

"We haven't been asked [by CMT] to consider further process - they will let us know when it is convenient," he said.

Email: ibird@examiner.com.au, Twitter: @IsabelBird

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