The sale of Queentown's Mount Lyell copper mine is expected to be wrapped up by June, its owners say, nine months after it advised the government of the process.
Though it remains unknown if or when the buyer will reopen the mine which has been in care and maintenance for the past eight years.
Continued operation of the mine would be the best case scenario for the government, otherwise it is liable to cover many millions of dollars in rehabilitation costs in the event of a closure.
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And there is no sign the government has a plan on how it will address the problem of acid mine drainage from the closed mine that has already caused one of the nation's most significant examples of environmental damage by a mine.
When approached on whether the government had a plan for rehabilitation and modelling of costs for the work in the event of closure, a spokesperson said:
"Any discussion about planning for the mine's closure is premature at this stage," they said.
Vedanta advised the government in September that it had started a process to divest itself of its 100-per-cent ownership of Copper Mines of Tasmania which owns and operates the mine.
It said the sale would be concluded by the end of 2020.
Global investment bank Macquarie Capital was appointed to manage the process.
A spokesperson from Vedanta this week said the divestment process was ongoing.
Vedanta is in the middle of a divestment process and is expected to conclude the process by June 2021 with a best suitable structure to find the right partner to run CMT operations to support the West Coast of Tasmania, they said.
According to the state's Environment Protection Authority, acid mine drainage due to historic mining practices at Mount Lyell continue to discharge into the river system.
"Previous studies have shown that this is by far the most significant source of ongoing environmental harm," it says on its website.
"Unless remedial action is taken, acid mine drainage will continue to contaminate the river system and harbour for hundreds of years.
"It is important to realise that mine closure would not solve the problem because of the high rainfall and large volumes of sulphidic rock at the site.
"The only solution is to treat the acid drainage effluent from the Mt Lyell site by extracting metals or neutralising the acid."
Investigations on treatment of the drainage revealed capital costs of between $10 million and $16 million and ongoing annual operating costs of between $1.6 million and $10 million which would need to be borne by the government if the mine was closed.
Under legislation, CMT is not responsible for environmental damage caused by previous operations prior to its ownership of the mine in the mid-1990s.
West Coast mayor Phil Vickers said even though the broader community had moved on from the mine and many of its former workers had left the area, it was in the interests of many that the mine reopened not only for economic reasons but environmental reasons.
"The King River is coming back to life; the Queen unfortunately never will," he said.
"There's been a lot of work done, and while it's never going to get back to what it was pre-mining, over time it'll come right."
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