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Managing post mine economies : strategies for sustainability
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Robert Miles, J Cavaye, P Donaghy
The Zinifex Century Zinc mine, located in the southern Gulf of northwest Queensland has fourteen years of operation remaining. The mine is a major economic driver in the region. Accordingly it is now timely to consider the post mine economy for the region and to consider how best to lever off the existing and planned activity of the mine during its remaining period of operation. As such, this pending closure provides an ideal case study for understanding issues associated with developing post mine economies. The Zinifex Century Mine provides direct employment for over 600 people at the site. A further 1500 people are estimated to be indirectly employed. Since 1997 the revenue to the state from Zinifex’s activities has been of the order of $155m. The potential benefit of the mine to the State and the region is approximated at $520m of minimum guaranteed revenue. This study assesses the economic contribution of the Zinfex Mine to the communities of the southern Gulf, explores the likely impacts of its closure. In addition, the study provides some suggested pathways to capitalise on the existing investment window the mine has to offer. Many of the strategies identified for the economic transition to a post mine economy for the southern Gulf are interrelated. The successful progress on a particular activity is dependent on the progress of other activity. Furthermore, the southern Gulf region has a number of socio-economic characteristics that make the region less well off than the rest of Queensland. The area is disadvantaged in comparison to other regions of Queensland by low income families, residents with little formal training and non-school qualifications, a large portion of the labour force employed as unskilled labour and significant unemployment. Zinfex Century Zinc Mine has contributed to the southern Gulf communities in three significant areas: Altering the population, industry employment, training and occupational characteristics of the southern Gulf communities; Sponsoring programs attempting to improve the health, employment, education and social welfare of indigenous communities through the Gulf Communities Agreement (GCA); and Through direct and indirect economic impacts flowing from mine employment and the purchase of mining goods and services from businesses operating within the southern Gulf.