JOBS THREAT: Workers face the sack as Qld mine goes under

ABOUT 50 workers face losing their jobs after a regional Queensland mine was put into administration.

The Courier Mail understands workers at the Goondicum mine at Monto, west of Bundaberg, were turned away this morning after Melior Australia was put in administration.

As many as 50 workers face an uncertain future with the underperforming mine, which was expected to produce 160,000 tonnes of ilmenite each year for nine years, facing closure.

Overnight Canadian company Melior Resources announced an administrator had been appointed to its wholly-owned Australian subsidiaries, Goondicum Resources and Melior Australia.

Melior Resources directors, in a notice to the Toronto Stock Exchange, said the company's Australian subsidiaries were "insolvent or are likely to become insolvent at some future time".

"The subsidiaries have been unable to obtain additional funding necessary to satisfy the ongoing cash needs of the business resulting from the continuing production underperformance at the Goondicum mine," the notice said.

The company revealed mine production of ilmenite and apatite for July 2019 was 7557 tonnes and 947 tonnes, respectively, below the annualised targeted ilmenite production rate of 160,000.

Calls to Melior Resources' Brisbane central business district office this morning went unanswered.

Only two mines in Queensland, Goondicum and North Stradbroke Island, produce ilmenite, the primary ore of titanium.

Located in a volcano crater, the Goondicum Mine was reopened in November after being closed for three years.

 

Melior Resources chief executive officer Mark McCauley resigned in August but remains a non-executive director.
Melior Resources chief executive officer Mark McCauley resigned in August but remains a non-executive director.

In March 2018 Melior Australia said it would create 70 jobs in the North Burnett region, with 50 people employed directly another 20 indirectly through contractors.

North Burnett Regional Council mayor Rachel Chambers said the mine's uncertain future would create a ripple effect through her community.

"Any loss of jobs is felt more significantly in outer regional areas of Queensland," she said.

"It saddens me to hear."

Cr Chambers said she would speak with company representatives to assess what could be done to keep it operational and understand where things went wrong.

The uncertain future of the mine is another blow to the drought-declared area, which relies on agriculture.

"We ride the highs and lows of agriculture... flooding rain to drought," Cr Chambers said.

"Everyone needs food, but people forget they need farmers to ride that wave.
"Communities have it tough... we battle along with not much help."

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said it was a disappointing time for employees.

"Our thoughts are with those whose jobs are affected by this decision," he said.

"Resources sector workers tend to be highly-skilled and have skills that are in demand at other mines and in associated industries.

"Overall, the Queensland resources industry remains strong and robust.

"The resources sector will continue to be one of Queensland's most important industries in terms of job creation, exports and contribution to the state economy."

Melior Resources bought out previous Goondicum Mine owner Belridge Enterprises in 2014 and agreed to spend $US15 million to restart the mothballed operation.

Bryan Hughes and Daniel Bredenkamp of Pitcher Partners were appointed administrators to Melior Resources on September 8.

The appointment of the administrator is expected to facilitate "a technical review and work-out plan or sales strategy to maximize any recovery from the subsidiaries".



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