Katter welcomes law change for copper smelter

Photo credit: http://www.northweststar.com.au

Photo credit: http://www.northweststar.com.au

The Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter said he was elated that the first barrier to the extension of the life of Mount Isa’s Copper smelter overturned in Parliament last night, saying it was a victory for both sides of Parliament.

“I’ve been pushing for this for a couple of years now, and although I thanked the previous government for their work on this, I also acknowledged the work of the Premier and her team who are bearing the political cost of pushing this through,” Mr Katter said.

He said the legislation to allow for the cancellation of Transitional Environmental Programs (TEPs) on air and water quality,  was the first step towards changing environmental requirements for Glencore’s Mount Isa copper smelter operations.

“This bill, the Payroll Tax Rebate, Revenue and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, is a collaborative work and I do thank the Glencore Management team led by Mike Westerman for providing the legwork for this legislation that will help preserve the life of this wonderful asset.

“It’s a positive step towards keeping the copper smelter operating past 2016, and shows the government’s support in terms of a regulatory pathway for the smelter to remain open,” Mr Katter said.

“Prior to this bill, there is no power in the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to cancel a TEP or TEL (Temporary Emissions License) in the event of a change in circumstances.

“The TEP that the copper smelter currently operates under is legally binding and specifically states that the operator intends to cease operation of the smelter at the end of 2016.

“Allowing the cancellation of the TEP will allow for the negotiation of an ongoing approval for the facility.

“We can now move toward the smelter being managed under amended conditions of the environmental authority.”

Mr Katter said the next big step for ensuring the continuation of the copper smelter’s operations was an Environmental Authority lodged with the Department of the Environment.

“Although this bill will apply to the cancellation of TEPs in other situations, the bill does make special mention of the copper smelter, and states the amendment will remove a potential barrier to the extension of the life of the copper smelter beyond 2016.

“I’m very pleased it is so specific; it gives Glencore workers a measure of security and shows the wheels are turning and there’s movement in the right direction.”

Mr Katter said Glencore had already significantly reduced emissions and was continuing to do so.

“The Mount Isa copper smelter is in the top two of the largest copper mining and smelting operations left in Australia… This is one of the last big assets that still offers highly skilled jobs in processing, otherwise we just become a quarry, not a mining country.

“People in Mount Isa should be very happy that we now have the opportunity to keep our doors open and keep the mine going – a business that was voted the most significant business in 150 years of Queensland’s history,” Mr Katter told Parliament last night.

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