Casting ahead for the future: Mount Isa Copper Smelter and Townsville REfinery to continue
Glencore Queensland Metals will move ahead with ordering tonnes of custom made bricks, after announcing we will continue operating our Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville refinery beyond 2022.
An agreement struck between Queensland Metals and the Queensland Government for their continued operation, secures employment for our 570 direct smelter and refinery workers. It also protects about 1,000 jobs that indirectly rely on the metallurgical assets.
The refractory bricks that line the copper smelter furnace are due to be replaced in 2022 at a cost of about $40 million. Due to the intense heat of up to 1300 degrees Celsius inside the ISASMELT™ furnace, the bricks erode and need to be replaced every three to four years.
The 99.7% pure copper anodes produced at our Copper Smelter are transported by rail and road to our world-class electrolytic copper refinery at Townsville.
Using Glencore's proprietary IsaKIDD™ process, the refinery produces up to 300,000 tonnes a year of 99.995% pure copper cathode, which is shipped through the Port of Townsville to international customers.
Queensland Metals Chief Operating Officer, Matt O'Neill says the government support recognises the importance of retaining advanced manufacturing in North Queensland, and acknowledges high fixed costs such as energy which are making it challenging for the smelter and refinery to compete with overseas operators.
"As Queensland looks post-COVID economic recovery, maintaining the skills and economic contribution from advanced metals manufacturing is important," says Matt.
"The agreement also enables us to commit to spending more than $500 million for the ongoing costs of operating these assets."
"I would like to thank our workforce and the community for their support and patience while the review of the metallurgical assets was undertaken."
"We look forward to the refinery and smelter continuing to drive important economic activity, while producing products that advance everyday life," Matt says.
Queensland Metals will continue to pay taxes and royalties each year and undertake further studies to examine the economic feasibility of large scale e-recycling or custom smelting into the future.
Mount Isa, Townsville and Olympic Dam are the only remaining copper smelters and refineries in Australia.