The announcement of the closure of Glencore mine will affect at least 1,200 employees and Mount Isa's 20,000-strong community, including contractors, suppliers and businesses that rely on the largest mining operation in north-west Queensland. The closure calls into question the future of the town’s economy that has been propped up by the mine.
An expert in critical mineral mining and mine rehabilitation from Monash University is available for comment.
Read more of Assoc Professor Yellishetti’s work at Monash Lens
- Copper doesn’t meet the definition of ‘critical mineral’ because the supply is reasonably diverse and with a significant contribution from recycling.
- Critical minerals such as cobalt, gallium, molybdenum and germanium are produced as by-products of major commodities such as bauxite, zinc, copper and iron ore.
- New technology for environmentally benign extraction of new generation of metals may encourage re-processing wastes for different metal concentrations.
The following quotes can be attributed to Associate Professor Yellishetti:
“The closure of Glencore mine means there is a risk of a significant supply disruption, and the impacts of such a disruption would be high.
“The rehabilitation of the mine provides a golden opportunity for the extraction of energy-transition critical minerals, energy generation, storage batteries, and space in the landscape, which is highly contested in our rapidly urbanising and climate-constrained world.
“There is also the potential for the development of rehabilitation-based local businesses like:
- construction works for restoration and rehabilitation
- tourism potential to rehabilitated sites such as bike paths and recreational lakes
- carbon farming opportunities via eucalyptus plantation on rehabilitated lands
- overburden waste for making building bricks and ceramic products
- potential to use rehabilitation areas for renewable energy generation
- nursery to supply plants, blending of waste streams to develop artificial soils that are used as capping material on the coal slopes or for reforestation
- consulting practice through the monitoring of rehabilitated conditions (geotechnical and environmental).
“The scale of the work in Mount Isa would support an entire regional rehabilitation industry, employing Indigenous and local business leaders. It also leaves a clean legacy for the communities and, by removing toxic metals from these reactive mine wastes, a cleaner environment.”
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