News, Safety events and incidents

29Metals suspends operations to keep workers safe

flood, water, rain

Queensland saw an extended period of rainfall between late January and mid-March, driving 29Metals to suspend operations at its Capricorn copper mine.

It is understood that the decision was made in the interest of safety for those on site.

29Metals managing director and chief executive officer Peter Albert said the decision to suspend Capricorn was not taken lightly, particularly since the company has been battling to dewater parts of the mine from flooding in March 2023.

“Unfortunately, the combination of elevated water levels at the beginning of the wet season (as a result of the event a year ago) and the sustained rainfall since late January this year has more than offset our successes reducing water levels,” he said.

Albert said 29Metals would continue to progress the growth potential at the site during the suspension, with targeted exploration activity currently underway.

“Planning for the restart will start almost immediately and we will use this pause in operations to build back stronger and set Capricorn copper up for the future.”

Over in the Northern Territory, Glencore’s McArthur River mine (MRM) has been battling wet weather of its own.

The company recently assessed the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Megan (which also contributed to the weather system at Capricorn).

“The cyclone passed to the east of MRM in the early hours of 19 March, bringing with it an unprecedented rainfall event of 274mm in a 24-hour period which surpassed a 50-year-old rainfall record of 197mm in 1974,” Glencore said.

Fortunately, Glencore said the McArthur tailings storage facility was never at risk of releasing water to the environment during the cyclone, and it has been well managed by its skilled operators and key processes.

The operation’s waste rock pile has also seen no impact from the cyclone or flooding, with no landslide or collapse recorded.

Water was found at the bottom of McArthur’s open pit. Despite the impairment, mining operations in the upper areas of the McArthur mine are being brought back online by Glencore personnel in a safe and phased manner.

The MRM flood levee performed as designed, with subsequent inspections showing no signs of concern.

Subscribe to Safe to Work to get the safety news that matters to the Australian mining industry.

Send this to a friend