The State Government of Tasmania hopes that an offer of government support will prompt Indian-based Vedanta Resources to reopen a mothballed copper mine on the Australian island state. It has offered a financial package worth A$25 million to reopen the Mount Lyell copper mine by 2017.
State Premier Will Hodgman made the offer during a Tasmanian trade mission to India.
He said, “The mine is shut at the moment and we hope to have it restarted by 2017 with financial support and tax reliefs. We have offered Vedanta an A$25 million financial package to sustain the operations.”
The mine on Tasmania’s West Coast is owned by Vedanta subsidiary, Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT), and operations were suspended in 2014 when it employed 370 workers. It was Australia’s oldest continually operating mine having started commercial production in 1896 as a gold mine.
Mount Lyell was put on care and maintenance in 2014 after three accidental deaths and a dip in the price of copper and gold impacted profitability.
Vedanta took over the operation in 2000 and according to the company, the underground mine has the capacity to annually produce roughly 30,000 tonnes of copper.
Reserves are estimated at 9.5 million tonnes grading at 1.25% copper. Over its life the mine produced more than 1.8 million tonnes of copper, 62 tonnes of gold and 1300 tonnes of silver.
“The Mount Lyell mine is a victim of unfavourable commodity prices. We see prospective opportunities to restart mining next year,” Will Hodgman said.
“It is a sizable operation and at its peak could employ well over 300 Tasmanians,” he said. “This is an important opportunity for us to demonstrate our support to Vedanta.”
CMT earlier announced that Vedanta had given it the green light to move to the final feasibility stage for a planned resumption of mining.
The Premier is leading a trade delegation comprising industry leaders from education, energy, tourism, and food and beverage sectors to the country. Meetings with government and business leaders will seek to deepen economic links, while showcasing what the state has to offer visitors, students and investors.
During the trade mission, the delegation plans to hold meetings with existing investors in Tasmania including Vedanta and Sun Pharma. It also aims to finalise some important business and sporting exchange programs.