The company was considering shutting the operations because of the huge costs of upgrading the facilities. Such a move would have impacted heavily on Mt Isa and Townville where Glencore employs more than 570 people. An additional 1000 indirect jobs would have also been impacted.
The deal will mean Glencore would invest about $500 million in the ongoing operations of the assets.
It’s also the second time it has received funds to maintain the operations. In 2016 it received $15 million to keep the projects going until 2022. Under the deal announced today, the projects will remain open for another three years.
The future of the Mt Isa smelter and the Townsville refinery have been a long-running political issue in Townsville.
Glencore announced it had received “a one-off incentive” from the Palaszczuk Government which is understood to be a subsidy allowing the facilities to remain viable.
The $500 million investment it announced is understood to be the operating costs of running the facilities beyond 2022.
“The incentive will partly mitigate the negative costs of continuing these assets which face high fixed costs and struggle to compete internationally,” Glencore said.
“We recognise these metallurgical assets are an improtant part of the North Queensland economy and part of the broader supply chain which supports thousands of jobs.
“This agreement secures the ongoing employment for about 570 direct smelter and refinery workers and a further 1000 indirect jobs.
Glencore will also undertake further studies to examine the economic feasibility of large-scale e-recycling or custom smelting.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said other companies, such as Incitec Pivot would also benefit.
“Queensland, like the rest of the world, is facing tough economic conditions because of the pandemic,” she said.
“That’s why my Government is stepping up to protect jobs in North Queensland and also to maintain critical industrial capacity and supply chains.”
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