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Glencore tags $355m to extend life of Australian copper assets

Mount Isa Mines’ copper smelter and the Townsville copper refinery will continue to operate for another three years. (Image courtesy of Mount Isa Mines.)

Miner and commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) said on Wednesday it will invest A$500 million (about $355m) to extend the life of its copper smelter and refinery in the Australian state of Queensland beyond 2022.

The decision follows an agreement with the State Government, which is providing a one-off incentive as part of its North Queensland Recovery Plan.

The undisclosed amount is intended to help Glencore mitigate the negative costs of keeping the assets running, the company said. Both the copper smelter in Mount Isa and the refinery in Townsville have high fixed costs and struggle to compete internationally, Glencore noted.

The support package will allow for the bricks lining the Mount Isa smelter in the north west of the state to be replaced late next year, a process that occurs every four years.

The government’s backing also secures the stability of 570 direct smelter and refinery workers, and a further 1,000 indirect jobs for the next two years.

Glencore said it would undertake further studies to examine the economic feasibility of large scale e-recycling or custom smelting into the future.

As part of an A$8 billion ($5.7bn) funding package, the Queensland State government will also spend A$50 million ($36m) on the Mount Isa rail line to boost capacity between the state’s north-west minerals province and Townsville, which is its largest port.

The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) complex is Australia’s second largest copper producer.

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