Bowen Coke gets snuffed out

Glencore has announced that it will be closing its North Queensland Bowen Coke Works facility over the next few months.

According to the bulk commodities company, the Bowen Coke Works has been in operation since 1933 providing metallurgical coke for the Mount Isa Mines’ lead smelter.

While no exact timeline for the closure was given, according to a Glencore spokesperson, the driver for this decision was mainly the “local inability to turn coking coal into metallurgical coke economically.”

Insofar as the Mount Isa Mines’ lead smelter is concerned, the spokesperson noted that it will continue to source and buy metallurgical coke “from international sources, mostly from Asia, and transport it by rail to Mount Isa from the Port of Townsville”.

Glencore’s Executive General Manager North Queensland Zinc Operations, Denis Hamel, said: “We have not made this decision lightly and are committed to supporting all of the 18 people who will be impacted by the closure.

In the coming days we will engage with our people to offer alternative roles across other Glencore operations where possible, including relocation support.”

“We will also provide wide-ranging transitionary support to impacted employees, including re-training and upskilling opportunities, career planning, financial management and job search assistance,” the company said.

All of those employees, noted the spokesperson have been with the company “between 10 and 37 years.”

The employee remuneration packages will be “well above the national average,” said the spokesperson, while also pointing out that that although most of the 18 employees could be re-employed in Glencore’s other operations, “alternative roles are unlikely to be in Bowen, but it is too early to rule this out.”

According to an official press release, Bowen Coke also stressed that, “We continue to take proactive steps to safely, efficiently and responsibly manage our operations in the current environment, continuing to provide local jobs in the communities where we operate and contributing to the Queensland economy.”

The closure follows the shutting of Glencore’s Tahmoor coal mine in NSW by 2019 due to poor market conditions.