Traeger MP Robbie Katter is calling for immediate state and federal legislation to save thousands of mining North Queensland jobs. Photo: Scott Radford-Chisholm
Traeger MP Robbie Katter is calling for immediate state and federal legislation to save thousands of mining North Queensland jobs. Photo: Scott Radford-Chisholm

NQ mining jobs at risk

Outspoken MP Robbie Katter is calling for immediate state and federal legislation to save thousands of mining jobs in North Queensland, also taking aim at "lazy and incompetent" Townsville MPs.

The leader of Katter's Australian Party, and Traeger MP has warned Townsville will wear the brunt of job losses if Glencore goes ahead with amalgamating all its operations at its copper and zinc facilities in the North West Minerals Province and the refinery in Townsville.

To be called Glencore "Queensland Metals Business", the single management structure would amalgamate copper assets including the Mount Isa mine and Ernest Henry in Cloncurry with zinc assets such as George Fisher and Lady Loretta. Mr Katter said consolidating operations placed uncertainty over 1600 jobs.

He claimed the State Government's exploration package, worth $13.8 million, to find new minerals and reinvestigate old mines over five years in the region would be a waste of time if there was no legislative framework to ensure long-term viability.

"We're staring down the barrel of production lines being shut down because of complacency from both state and federal governments and an imminent failure on all policy fronts," Mr Katter said.

"The North West Minerals Province is one of the main arteries of industry into Townsville and we're paying one of the world's highest energy prices so it needs a two-prongeed approach to put a package together, no more studies or talk."

Mr Katter said he'd been involved in "constructive" conversations with state and federal MPs but the issue was being downplayed by Labor's three Townsville based MPs.

He labelled Scott Stewart, Aaron Harper and Coralee O'Rourke as lazy and complacent.

Mr Katter said Government incentives needed to be introduced to hold mining companies in the region long term and prevent them moving operations overseas through royalty adjustments and hefty exit fees. There should also be stricter rules surrounding site clean-ups.

"They (local MPs) need to do this before the state election," he said.

"This has huge flow-on effects, because it puts the port at compromise, the rail line then gets compromised and it's a very dark future indeed." A Glencore spokesman said it was far too premature to comment on potential job impacts.

"The first step involves putting in place a consultation process to understand how best to transition to a single management structure," the spokesman said.

"A single management structure will place the business in a stronger and more sustainable position going forward and will also provide a platform for the development of a long term polymetallic mining plan for the Mount Isa complex.

"This will ensure we are able to continue making a material socio-economic contribution to the regional community and the people of Queensland."

Originally published as NQ mining jobs at risk


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