Job cuts at Mt Lyell in pipeline

WORKERS from the Mount Lyell copper mine are expected to return to the site next month, but more than 80 jobs could be lost.

The mine has been shut down since mid-January after three workers died at the Queenstown site within six weeks.

About 300 CMT and Barminco employees have been stood down on half-pay, been redeployed to other sites or employed in ongoing care and maintenance roles.

At a meeting yesterday, Copper Mines of Tasmania general manager Scot Clyde said the mine would continue to employ about 240 people.

``While this is good news for the bulk of our employees, it will significantly reduce ore production over the next two years, and unfortunately, this requires fewer employees,'' Mr Clyde said.

``The company is undertaking exploration drilling and feasibility studies to prove up ore deposits on the site and is confident that the mine has a longer-term future.''

Safer technology is being introduced, including remote mining equipment to remove workers from the risk of a mud rush, which killed one of the men.

Australia Workers Union secretary Robert Flanagan said the decision provided some certainty for workers.

``They've been waiting for months to have some idea of what the future might look like,'' Mr Flanagan said.

He said employees were absorbing what they'd been told at the meeting.

``They're really waiting on what comes out of discussions between unions and the company over the next couple of weeks,'' he said.

WorkSafe Tasmania has cleared development and ground support staff to return to the site next month, and production staff are expected to return in July.

Milling operations may not be reopened until September.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss said the government acknowledged the efforts by CMT to support the workforce through the shutdown.

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