DOZENS of mining workers have been made redundant a week before Christmas following the sudden closure of the CU-River’s Cairn Hill mine.
The company has now confirmed the closure of the iron-ore mine, 50km southeast of Coober Pedy, which had employed about 80 people; many from the local area.
The mine, within the Woomera Prohibited Area, had only reopened earlier this year after production ceased in late 2017.
In a statement issued to the Coober Pedy Regional Times this week, CU-River said its joint-venture partner, Jiujiang Mining Australia, had withdrawn from the project and as a result “the majority of staff will be made redundant”.
A small number of employees would remain on site to assist with the closure.
The statement attributed the closure to the Defence Department denying CU-River’s $270 million expansion plan, which would have included a minerals concentrator and other infrastructure.
The company was also denied access to the nearby Snaefell deposit.
It had planned to develop the Snaefell and Tomahawk iron-ore deposits in a move that could have created another 350 jobs over the next seven years.
Local employees were told of the redundancies on Friday when they arrived at work. Problems obtaining permits to operate near Woomera was given as a basic reason. A good number of Coober Pedy families now face an uncertain future with the mine closure.
JMA concluded that “in absence of the approval to construct a processing plant, it was not an economically viable option at current iron-ore prices to continue mining with dry magnetic separation and the longer the operations continued, the greater the economic loss the company would face”.
CU-River Mining, which was established by Adelaide businessman Yong Gang Shan, said the closure would not affect its development of an iron ore port at Port Augusta.
The Chinese-backed company bought the former site of Alinta Energy’s Northern and Playford coal-fired power stations to build a port and export up to 15 million tonnes of iron ore a year.
More than 150 people would be needed during construction and up to 100 permanent positions would be created once it was finished.
Iron ore has been railed for export through Port Adelaide.