Canada’s Kirkland Lake halts gold mine in Australia, leaves up to 150 jobless

Canada’s Kirkland Lake Gold (TSX:KL) has decided to suspend operations at its underground Stawell mine, located in Australia’s south-eastern state of Victoria, due to declining profitability.

The cease of operations at Victoria's largest gold mine will leave about 150 workers without a job, the company said, adding that it will keep a team of between 15 to 20 people to maintain the site, monitor the environment and continue exploration.

While mining at Stawell stopped today, underground exploration will continue during the care and maintenance phase.

The company said the decision to shut the mine had been under discussion for "some years," adding the transition to “care and maintenance” has already began.

"In 2009 Stawell Gold Mines produced more than 86,000 ounces of gold, compared with just over 32,000 ounces this year," president of Australian operations, Darren Hall, said in a statement.

Hall also noted that as far back as 2012, Stawell Gold Mines (SGM) had informed the community that it would be transitioning, due to declining gold production.

Employees have been told they will receive their full entitlements as well as support services to help find new jobs.

In September, Kirkland Lake merged with Newmarket Gold, another Canadian company, creating a new mid-tier gold producer. Newmarket Gold was the previous owner of the closed mine.

The Stawell operation and surroundings was a popular tourist attraction in Victoria. It also became popular for hosting a hi-tech particle laboratory, about 1 km underground, where a team is studying the phenomenon of dark matter.