The official opening of CuDeco’s $640 million copper mine near Cloncurry has been hailed as a sign Queensland has weathered the storm of a worldwide resources price slump.
Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke said the Rocklands operation was good news for the economy and for the region.
“Queensland’s North West Mineral Province is known around the world as a highly prospective region and the opening of Rocklands Copper mine demonstrates the area continues to have a great future ahead,” she said.
Mrs O’Rourke said the Palaszczuk Government was considering recent recommendations by the North West Minerals Province Taskforce to help boost future exploration and production in the region.
“We need to think differently and innovatively to unlock the next generation of mines and the work coming out through the taskforce is certainly looking at how to make this happen,” she said.
CuDeco managing director Dr Dianmin Chen said the new mine had created significant employment, investment and economic growth opportunities for the region while delivering wealth for shareholders.
“With shipments of native copper and sulphide copper concentrates to our customers now under way, we are focused on ensuring the successful ramp-up to nameplate capacity,” Dr Chen said.
The new mine has created more than 200 new jobs, and hundreds more indirectly thanks to regional economic spin-offs, according to CuDeco.
The company says its commitment to local employment has meant a high ratio of local workers, while the company has also supported the local Indigenous community through scholarships as part of its corporate social responsibility policy.
CuDeco has achieved a series of milestones in 2016, including the completion of the construction and commissioning of the project, the first shipment of native copper via the Port of Townsville and on October 17, the first shipment of sulphide copper concentrate to China.
Representing the Chinese Consulate in Brisbane, Consul Jiang welcomed the project as demonstrating the mutual benefits of Chinese investment in Australia’s resource industry.
“China is Australia’s and Queensland’s largest trading partner, and projects such as the Rocklands copper mine symbolise the benefits of our growing investment in Australia, which currently exceeds $75 billion across a range of sectors, including resources,” she said.
“…As China has put forward the initiative of ‘One Belt One Road,’ as well as international industrial cooperation, and Australia has released a white paper on its Northern Australia Development Strategy, both sides will have an even broader stage for business development in the future.”
MITEZ president David Glasson said the Rocklands venture had faced numerous hurdles in getting to where it is today and congratulated everyone who had been involved for their perseverance despite the difficulties experienced along the way.
Mr Glasson said a much-needed boost for the project came when CuDeco sought $63 million in investor capital and a joint venture arrangement with China Oceanwide International Investment Co and Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering Co enabled it to complete the project.
“It’s not every day MITEZ is invited to the opening of a new mine in the North West, however with what’s happening at present, it appears we might be attending a few more in the years ahead.” he said.
Figures released by the Queensland Resources Council yesterday showed the natural resources sector contributed $1.8 billion into the North West region’s economy in 2015-16, supporting the equivalent of 11,126 fulltime jobs.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the sector directly employed 2972 full-time employees in the North West region while a further 8153 full-time workers were indirectly employed as a result of resources spending.
“What this means for the people of North West is $394 million was paid in wages to full-time employees, while $669 million was spent locally on goods and services and local taxes and charges,” he said.