Mt Lyell copper mine to close, 200 jobs gone

The Mount Lyell copper mine at Queenstown will close, its management has announced.

All 200 workers at the mine have been made redundant, effective immediately.

Copper Mines of Tasmania management told a media conference a short time ago that the mine will be shut down and put into care and maintenance mode.

CMT general manger Scot Clyde said that it was unfortunate and sad that after exploring all options available to try and keep the mine open, and to keep the workforce together, the company had to make the decision to put the mine into care and maintenance mode.

"The discovery of a rock fall in the mine's ventilation drive on Friday, June 27 was a bitter blow as we were preparing for a staged restart of operations following the long shutdown," Mr Clyde said.

"This has been a very difficult decision for CMT  and for our parent company Vedanta, especially after the large financial commitment to support our workforce on standby pay since the suspension of mining operations in January 2014.

"Clearing the rock fall and restoring ventilation would have required a further shutdown of some there months with a further substantial financial cost to support our workforce on standby pay for that period.

"CMT will still need to clear the rock fall and restore ventilation to keep the mine ready to open if and when an opportunity to do so arises in the future.

"I want to reassure everyone that we have done everything possible to keep the mine running as we understand just how important it is to our own workforce and for the West Coast community."

Mr Clyde said that 15 workers will be retained for care and maintenance coverage. He said that there will be ongoing drilling exploration for new ore bodies on the Mt Lyell lease with the aim of reopening the mine at some time in the future.

He said that the company will explore opportunities for people with the appropriate skills to be relocated within the group's international operations.

The mine shut down in January after three workers were killed in two separate incidents.

The 200-strong workforce at the mine was stood down on half pay at that time.

Last December, two men died after they fell down a mine shaft.

The third man was killed about a month-and-a-half later when he was caught in a mud rush underground.

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