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Tasmania govt wants to restart Australia’s oldest mine

Image: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

The premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman, during a trade mission to India announced government backing for a restart of a copper mine on the island that was Australia’s oldest continually operating mine until its mothballing two years ago.

Hodgman told NDTV that the operation, now owned by India’s Vedanta, could reopen as early as next year with state support:

“It is a sizable operation and at its peak could employ well over 300 Tasmanians,” he said.

“So it is an important opportunity for us to demonstrate our support to Vedanta, the Copper Mines of Tasmania.”

In commercial production since 1896 originally as a gold mine, the Mount Lyell mine on Tasmania’s west coast was put on care and maintenance in 2014 after three accidental deaths at the mine and a dip in the price of copper and gold impacted profitability.

Vedanta took over Mt Lyell in 2000 and according to the company now called Copper Mines of Tasmania, the underground mine has the capacity to produce roughly 30,000 tonnes of copper per year. Reserves are estimated at 9.5 million tonnes grading at 1.25% Cu.

Over its life produced more than 1.8 million tonnes of copper, 62 tonnes of gold and 1,300 tonnes of silver.

Creative Commons image by Dave Fryer