The member for Mount Isa Rob Katter has already spoken to the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham, and has a meeting with the Minister for Environment, Steven Miles tomorrow, regarding extending the life of Mount Isa’s copper smelter beyond 2016.
“I have spoken to the new Premier about this issue and have assurances it would be resolved. At this early stage the Labor Government has certainly been very receptive and the intention is definitely there. They’ve given us an assurance that they’ll make it happen, so I’m very encouraged at this stage,” Mr Katter said.
He said he all he was asking of the Government was to match their regulations with the Mount Isa community’s expectations.
“Emissions have already been significantly reduced by Mount Isa Mines. I can’t remember anyone coming into my office complaining about emissions from the mines, but I do have plenty of people expressing their concerns about the viability of the mines,” he said.
Mr Katter said the issue affected not just Mount Isa but Townsville as well.
“The three new Labor MPs in Townsville want our copper smelter to continue and I’ve already met with some of those MPs to discuss the future of the copper smelter.
“It means jobs for Townsville as well.”
Mr Katter said the original legislation was a matter of “policy gone bad”.
“When the Government brought in the new act for mines to comply with, this forces the board of Glencore in Switzerland to find an easier solution – shifting the same ore to China, rather than smelting it here, therefore exporting a thousand skilled Queensland jobs to China.
“So they’d transport concentrate by diesel power at four times the bulk of the smelted product to a much dirtier smelter in China. The same emissions are going up into the same earth’s atmosphere, so it’s actually a worse outcome for the environment than modifying the legislation to allow the smelter here to continue.
“We should be trying to increase value-adding and minerals processing in Australia, not getting rid of it. The ratio of jobs created from mineral processing is four to one, so it’s worth holding onto.”
Mr Katter said it was not just a Mount Isa problem.
“If the copper smelter had to close the shock waves will reverberate around Queensland.
“2016 is coming up; these decisions need to be made yesterday.
“I’ve been pushing this issue from the start, and I’ll keep pushing until we get a solution.”